The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) today initiated a recall of twelve imported soy sauce products after tests showed that they contained unsafe levels of the chloropropanol 3-MCPD, a chemical contaminant and possible cancer-causing agent.

Tests undertaken by ANZFA, the Queensland Department of Health and the New Zealand Ministry of Health found that these 12 products – of 150 soy sauce products tested to date – had levels of 3-MCPD up to180 times the level of safe use.

ANZFA Managing Director Ian Lindenmayer said ANZFA had consulted widely with senior food officers in States and Territories.

ANZFA had also spoken with major retailers and their associations immediately prior to requesting this recall and they have undertaken to act very quickly to remove the products from the market.

“ANZFA’s dietary modelling has shown that soy sauce products containing 3-MCPD at levels above 3.5 milligrams per kilogram are unsafe to consume. One test result showed a level of 630 mg/kg,” Mr Lindenmayer said.

“This is not acceptable, even though I must emphasise that the major health threat is for people who consume these products over long periods of time.

“Retailers should remove them from sale immediately and I am pleased that they have cooperated without complaint about the extra work involved in identifying the products and taking them from the shelves.”

Mr Lindenmayer said that he had concerns about stores which were not part of large retail chains. It was imperative, he said, that these store owners return the unsafe soy sauce products to the distributor as quickly as possible.

“Consumers with any of the soy sauce products listed below should return them to the place of purchase for a refund or simply discard them,” Mr Lindenmayer said.

“If these products have been recently consumed, consumers should not be overly alarmed since the major risk is from long exposure to them.

“It is also important to remember that chloropropanol contamination can occur during the manufacture of soy sauce products when a process called acid hydrolysis is used. We believe soy sauces and soy sauce products made by a traditional (natural) fermentation process do not contain the contaminant.”

The twelve soy sauce products which pose a public health and safety risk are all those listed below, except where the product was imported after the introduction of comprehensive import testing by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) on 6 July 2001:

Brand Product description Country of origin
Amoy Seafood soy sauce Hong Kong
Gia Minh Seasoning soy sauce Vietnam
Kimlan (in Chinese) Soy sauce (in Chinese) Taiwan (in Chinese)
Kimlan Dark soy sauce Taiwan
Knorr Seasoning Hong Kong
President Creamy soy sauce Taiwan
Silver Swan Soy sauce Philippines
Ta Tung Soy bean sauce Taiwan
Tau Vi Yeu Seasoning sauce soyabean Vietnam
Tau Vi Yeu Soyabean sauce Vietnam
Zu Miao Fo shan soy superior sauce China
Zu Miao Mushroom soy sauce China

In August, ANZFA requested a recall of two brands of soy sauce – Golden Mountain and Wanjashan – after initial tests showed that unacceptable levels of chloropropanols were present in them.