FSA News Item, 10 March 2008
The European Commission has introduced new measures to test guar gum imported from India .
This follows an incident last summer in which dioxin contamination was discovered in Indian guar gum, a thickening agent used in a wide range of processed foods. Although there was no immediate risk to health, large numbers of food products, including yoghurts and fruit drinks, were withdrawn from sale all over Europe .
The high dioxin levels were linked to contamination of the guar gum with pentachlorophenol (PCP), a fungicide banned from use in food and feed. In October, inspectors from the European Food and Veterinary Office visited India to investigate the source of the contamination. They discovered a number of possible causes and made recommendations for improvements to the Indian authorities. However, these improvements will take time to bring in.
Although there has been no further contamination, in order to prevent a repeat of last summer's incident the Commission has decided that all guar gum imported into Europe from India should be tested for PCP.
India produces between 80 and 90% of the world's guar gum, a total of about 200,000 tonnes per year.