Food recall could cost suppliers £100m

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The rogue batch of chilli powder that led to the largest-ever consumer recall in the UK could cost the food industry more than £100m, say leading retail analysts.

The rogue batch of chilli powder that led to the largest-ever consumer recall in the UK could cost the food industry more than £100m, say leading retail analysts.

Lawrence Hutter, consumer expert at Deloitte, the accountancy firm, said the cost of dumping thousands of ready meals could take the bill past that figure. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recalled 359 products after they were contaminated with an industrial dye called Sudan 1. The list includes many supermarket own-brand ready meals from Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

The big supermarkets, who have a 70 per cent share of the market, will bill their suppliers for lost sales, said Mr Hutter. "The small retailers will have to carry those costs."

The buck is likely to stop with Premier Foods in St Albans, the source of the Worcester sauce flavouring containing the rogue chilli, which has a £1.9bn annual turnover. There is no suggestion that Premier knew the chilli contained the dye.

The recall has also sparked an international alert. The chilli is reported to have been shipped to Canada, the EU and India. It is used in countries with more lax controls, such as China, Mr Hutter added. Sudan 1 is a red dye, used in shoe and floor polishes. But it dissolves in soil, and chilli growers found that it gave the vegetable a lustrous red glow.

It was banned more than two years ago when it was discovered to be a carcinogen. Mr Hutter said the rogue batch of chilli had been imported before the ban and was probably used by mistake.

A full list of the affected products can be found at www.food.gov.uk/sudanlist

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