The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) today, after consultation with State and Territory health authorities, has recommended a nation-wide recall of mini-cup jelly lollies, containing the food additive konjac, which are commonly sucked out of an
individually sealed cup.

They are primarily sold through small grocery shops and school canteens.

ANZFA’s Managing Director Ian Lindenmayer said the recall is advisable because fifteen deaths around the world have been linked to choking episodes caused by this type of jelly cup, including eight in Japan, five in the United States and one in New South Wales last year.

“Konjac is used to bind ingredients in the lollies.  Unfortunately, konjac’s ability to bind can also make it stick to the throat, causing a constriction of the airways and choking,” Mr Lindenmayer said.
“The sticking can be so severe that normal methods of removing such obstructions from choking victims do not work when these jellies become lodged in the throat.

“In addition, konjac is not an approved food additive and is therefore an illegal food.  Under these circumstances, we believe it is appropriate that the product be removed from the marketplace.”

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Mr Lindenmayer said ANZFA has already advised the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) to stop food products containing konjac at the border.

Last year, ANZFA issued a warning that parents should be careful in giving jelly cups to young children because of a choking episode in Queensland.  This warning arose from concern over the size of the lollies, not any konjac content.

The present action is directed at jelly lollies containing konjac that have been imported from Asia.  There are some brands of jelly cups manufactured in Australia on the market which do not contain konjac and these products are not being recalled.

“Retailers should return recalled stock to suppliers and consumers should return unused packets of jelly cups containing konjac to the place of purchase,” Mr Lindenmayer said.