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8 February 2011, 13:01 | Updated: 22 February 2011, 10:56
Poisons including arsenic and sulphur dioxide have been found during tests on food by Kent Trading Standards.
Officials discovered the toxic substances in samples of dried fruit, dressed crab, fried Dace fish and paprika spices. All products have now been removed from sale.
Kent Trading Standards works with Kent Scientific Services, to test thousands of samples of food on sale to the public, to make sure they contain safe ingredients which are described accurately on the packaging.
Tests include checking the levels of additives and that food is not contaminated with excessive chemical residues or toxins. As well as checking for hidden levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat, they have also uncovered arsenic, poisons and sulphur dioxide during their tests and even had some items taken off the market completely.
They also make sure that legal minimum standards (for example the amount of meat in sausages, burgers and pies) are met and that these ingredients are not replaced with illegal substitutes and carry out checks to make sure shops are not selling food past their ‘use-by’ dates.
Among the more unusual items they have tested include:
Fried Dace (fish) which contained dangerously high levels of histamine which is a poison. This product is viewed as being so dangerous that the Food Standards Agency have issued a national recall based on the research carried out by Kent Trading Standards.
Szechuan Flower Pepper which contained dangerously high levels of arsenic. The product has now been withdrawn from the market place as a direct result of our action.
They also found dried fruit which contained undeclared sulphur dioxide (which is an allergen and can cause dangerous problems for some people), dressed crab with high levels of cadmium (a poison) and paprika with excessive levels of ochratoxin (a carcinogen). In this last case the work of Kent Trading Standards helped a Kent business to get a full refund from their supplier.
KCC Assistant Head for Kent Trading Standards Ian Treacher said: “Food testing is an important part of Kent Trading Standards’ work and provides an invaluable service to the public. We identify those foods which pose a health risk and as a result, we have brought about changes in labelling and even in some cases had the item banned. We will keep testing foods and hope customers feel reassured when they browse the shelves.”