Why are some foods in Norway being taken off the shelves?


What happened?

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has recalled several everyday foods in Norway because they contain ethylene oxide, an illegal, carcinogenic and toxic pesticide.

Ethylene Oxide is a strong disinfectant used to kill bacteria from produce during cultivation.

The substance has been found in products containing the additive of locust bean gum.

Locust bean gum, the additive that has been contaminated, generally does not contain the banned pesticide and is a neutral tasting gluten-free additive used to bind products together and make them thicker.

Batches of the additive containing ethylene oxide are likely from Turkey, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority said.

Why were the products withdrawn?

The products were withdrawn because ethylene oxide is banned from use in food products in the EU and the European Economic Area, or EEA (EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). As Norway is a member of the EEA, the products have been recalled.

What foods have been removed?

Some of the foods that have been withdrawn from sale include J&M and coop béarnaise sauce, Twix and Snickers ice cream, El Dorado potato gratin, King Oscar sardines, various Orkla Foods noodle and pâté products. . You can consult the complete list of products here.

“This is a relatively large amount of product, because this additive is included in everyday foods,” Vigdis JenderÃ¥, senior inspector of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, told the TV channel public. NRK.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority said it did not know how long products contaminated with ethylene oxide had been on Norwegian shelves.

READ ALSO: Five Norwegian Dishes That Are Not As Bad As They Look … And One That Is

How dangerous is it?

Being carcinogenic, intake of ethylene oxide increases the risk of developing cancer over time.

“Ethylene oxide can damage DNA – genes and genetic material – and is carcinogenic. In addition, taking the drug may increase the risk of developing cancer over time, ”Helle Katrine Knutsen, senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, told NRK.

However, the risk of developing cancer from consuming products contaminated with the pesticide in Norway is believed to be extremely low.

“We can assume that the contribution here is short-lived. Therefore, a possible increase in cancer risk as a result of this can be assumed to be small but cannot be quantified, ”Knutsen said.

In addition, although it is toxic, ethylene oxide is not acutely toxic. In practice, this means that if you were to consume the contaminated products without knowing it, it would not pose a health risk in the short term.

Has this ever happened?

This is not the first time that the carcinogen has been discovered in Norwegian foods.

Last year there was a significant withdrawal of products containing Indian sesame seeds that had been sprayed with the pesticide.

This has led to stricter rules on importing sesame seeds into the EU and EEA.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority said the The increased use of ethylene oxide in agriculture is of concern.

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