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Ugandan food watchdog investigates additive used in beef products
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18:01, July 19, 2007

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The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is investigating whether beef products, currently on the Ugandan market, contain an additive, Red 2G, which has been identified as potentially harmful.

The additive, used mainly in coloring sausages and burgers to give them a red fresh look, has been identified as a cause of cancer, following a research released last week by the European Food Safety Agency which said "it is no longer considered safe for human consumption."

"We are going to pick samples and find out whether they contain that additive. We may not have the capacity to test for the additive, but it (capacity) can be developed. We need to find out the current exposure," Musoke Gyavira, the head of the UNBS inspection section, was quoted by Daily Monitor as saying on Thursday.

He said the process of procuring Red 2G reagents is underway to enable UNBS carry out the necessary tests. "If it is found that the products have Red 2G, the best thing is to ban its importation, then work with Uganda Revenue Authority to prevent the entry."

Red 2G is converted in the body into an oily substance called aniline, which when tested on rats and mice showed it had potential to trigger cancer. Cancer has been identified by the World Health Organization as one of the leading causes of death in Uganda.

Although the use of Red 2G, a dye, has not yet been banned by the Codex Alimentarius, the world regulatory body on food, Musoke advises that short-term measures should be used.

"A warning to manufacturers is to use natural products rather than artificial, but lifestyle makes it imperative. Consumers should also resort to taking fresh natural products because all additives have consequences."

Because it has never been tested before, the limited level of consumption in Uganda is unknown, although in Europe, amounts of Red 2G are permitted for use in sausages with minimum cereal content of 6 percent and in burger meat, a minimum vegetable and/ or cereal content of 4 percent.

Musoke said UNBS is in touch with other regulatory bodies both within and outside the region for any alerts on the development.

The European Food Safety Agency is to meet at the end of this month to discuss the findings, before making a proposal to Codex which will then decide on whether to ban the additive or not, a position that will be communicated to all food regulatory bodies.

Source: Xinhua

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