Undeclared almond in paprika expands allergy alert

Almonds_WhiteBackground_resizedThe investigation of undeclared allergens in spices has widened as new recalls have been issued in Europe for paprika, and spice mixtures containing paprika, which have been found to be contaminated with almond. This comes shortly after ground cumin, and several other products containing cumin, were recalled recently in the U.S. and later in Europe for undeclared peanut and almond residues.

For those with nut allergies, consuming these products can be potentially life-threatening. However, in both cases the levels of the nut proteins discovered in the products thus far have been low and no cases of allergic reactions linked to the affected products have been reported.

“The FSA (Food Standards Agency) is investigating these incidents and, where potential problems are identified, we are alerting the public. We are dealing with this as part of our normal incident response, and our first priority is for the safety of allergic consumers,” Jason Feeney, Chief Operating Officer at the FSA, said in a recent article. “’There is no evidence of food fraud at this stage but the Food Crime Unit will be involved if evidence of food crime emerges,” he added.

Paprika, a ground powder made from sweet and hot dried peppers, is one of the most popular ingredients in European cooking. Largely imported from India, recent shortages of the crop have sent its prices soaring to a two-year high.

As stated in the article, the cumin recall is more advanced in the U.S., where dozens of products have been pulled off the shelves in recent weeks and is being considered the most widespread series of allergy-related recalls for at least a decade. In Europe, the FSA launched a far-ranging inquiry after two cases came to light in the past two weeks in which products claiming to contain cumin included almonds that were not declared on the packaging.

“This is the first real test of the integrity of the UK food supply system since the horsemeat crisis and it’s actually much, much more serious,” Professor Chris Elliott, who led the government’s inquiry into the horsemeat scandal, said in another article.

“It’s much more serious because in the whole horsemeat scandal nobody got ill and nobody died because of it. But if you happen to be allergic to almonds or peanuts there is the potential of getting ill or even dying because of it. So the challenge is there,” he added.

In response to the cumin recalls, Neogen announced that its comprehensive line of food allergen tests includes quantitative and screening test kits that can quickly and accurately detect peanut and almond allergens in cumin and spice blends and also released a special website where processors, producers and test labs can go for further information, including a new white paper on contaminated cumin.

For more information, click here.

Comments are closed.