Heinz, a goliath international food manufacturer, has issued a national recall of chilli sauces and chilli oils that may contain the red industrial dye, Sudan I.
The recall follows news of fast food giant McDonald's withdrawing some products in Britain after the dye, believed to cause cancer, was found in some food products.
"Heinz has told its distributors and sales agencies across the country to recall the suspected products," said Charles Chyi, regional president of Heinz (China) Investment Co Ltd.
"And we know where our products are now being sold in the mainland," Chyi told a press conference yesterday afternoon in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province.
List of products
Heinz provided a list of products that must be recalled on the Chinese mainland and has given it to its distributors and wholesalers, Chyi added.
But Chyi refused to reveal just how many products will be recalled because of the carcinogen nationwide.
Chyi promised to co-operate with the Chinese Government to further investigate the problem that has raised great concern at home and abroad.
He said his company is considering importing advanced technology and equipment, along with expanded co-operation with other labs at home and abroad to help test for the dye in the coming years to prevent similar incidents.
According to a local quality supervision department, six products produced by Heinz companies are suspected of containing Sudan I.
The products include: chilli sauces, oils and extracts.
Christina Sng-Lye, president of the Heinz Meiweiyuan (Guangzhou) Food Co Ltd, subsidiary of Heinz, urged consumers to send in suspected products to her company.
Sng-Lye promised to pay compensation to consumers.
So far, Heinz is the first and only company that has been inspected to have produced the products containing the dye in Guangdong.
In the wake of nationwide inspections for the dye, law enforcement personnel from the Guangdong Provincial Administration of Quality Supervision have sealed up many sauces and oils that contain Sudan I over the past couple of days.
The products that have been sealed up have included 60,624 bottles of pepper oil, 119.4 kilograms of pepper extract, 66,636 bottles of pepper sauce, 713.9 kilograms of pepper powder, 1,800 bottles of red vinegar, and 34,155 bottles of seafood sauce. In addition, some other dyes, additives and related materials and products that were produced by a subsidiary of Heinz, were sealed, according to Ren Xiaotie, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Administration of Quality Supervision.
Meanwhile all supermarkets in this Guangdong provincial capital have been required to stop selling pepper related sauce and oil products manufactured by Heinz, said Ren.
"The move aims to ensure all the food products sold in the southern metropolis meet the State's hygiene requirements and protect people's health," Ren told local media yesterday .
Ren said his administration started a province-wide inspection on pepper- and sauce-related products beginning yesterday.
He promised to seriously punish those who use, produce and sell the products that contain Sudan I after they are inspected.
Ren said quality supervision departments across the province will also expand inspections of Heinz's food suppliers and related companies this week to find the sources of Sudan I.
Sudan I is used for colouring solvents, oils, waxes, petrol, shoes and floor polishes.
The dye was found by the Food Standards Agency of Britain on February 18 in a batch of chilli powder made by Premier Foods, one of the largest food and beverage companies in Britain. The agency also found some of the dye in products made by other companies, including Schweppes, Coca Cola, Unilever and Heinz.
China banned imports of any food containing the carcinogenic substance on February 23.
On Friday, the State Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine required the Heinz Meiweiyuan (Guangzhou) Food Co Ltd to recall its affected products.
Source: China Daily