The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has issued a number of recall notifications for food products due to contamination by the pesticide ethylene oxide.
Ethylene oxide is not permitted for use in foods sold within the EU, but is approved for use by other countries outside of the bloc.
The following products have been recalled:
In addition, the food supplement Seven Seas Omega-3 and Immunity 30 Day Duo Pack have also been recalled due to the presence of 2-chloroethanol, a recognised reaction product of ethylene oxide.
The pesticide was found to have contaminated locust bean gum which is used as an additive in some food products in Europe.
Locust bean gum is a vegetable gum extracted from the seeds of the Carob tree. It is approved for use as a food additive in the EU.
It is used in a range of foods including ice-cream, breakfast cereals, meat products, confectionery, follow-on formulae, fine bakery wares, fermented milk products and cheese.
Ethylene oxide is a chemical used as a pesticide, fumigant or sterilising agent. In the EU, the use of ethylene oxide as a pesticide or for the disinfection of food is not permitted.
Ethylene oxide is classified by the European Chemicals Agency as a mutagen, carcinogen and a reproductive toxicant.
Therefore the consumption of foods containing ethylene oxide does not pose an acute risk to health, but there is an increased health risk if foods contaminated with the active are consumed over a long period of time. Therefore, exposure to ethylene oxide needs to be minimised.
Elsehwere, the Department of Agriculture’s 2020 annual report has found that 80% of food pesticide residue breaches have related to produce of non-Irish origin. Read more here.