Cancer chemical found in soy sauce

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The Independent Online
A CANCER-CAUSING chemical has been detected at levels above those recommended by government scientists in bottles of soy sauce on sale in Britain. The Government's Joint Food Safety and Standards Group conducted the survey after other European states found that some soy sauce contained levels of the contaminant 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD), which is known to cause cancer in rats.

The Department of Health said yesterday that there was no immediate risk to the public. However, the suppliers of the affected products were told that their products must not contain detectable levels of 3-MCPD in future. Further tests will be carried out in 12 months' time. The survey, conducted at the Central Science Laboratory in York, involved 40 samples of soy, mushroom soy, oyster sauce and other sauces bought from retail outlets in the past two months.

The Government's recommended limit for 3-MCPD is 0.01mg/kg, and 26 of the samples were close to or below that level, with 21 of them containing no detectable levels of the contaminant. A further five had very low levels - between 0.01 and 0.02 parts per million.

But the level of 3-MCPD in nine of the remaining 14 samples, which have not been named, exceeded the limits. Baroness Hayman, Minister for Food Safety, said: "The important message for consumers is that this is not an immediate health risk and the action being taken should ensure it doesn't become one."