On Tuesday (17 July) the FSA issued new advice to industry on food products that may contain potentially contaminated olive-pomace oil from Spain.

This follows earlier action by the Food Standards Agency to withdraw Spanish olive-pomace oil from the UK market on 6 July. The Spanish government banned this oil after finding high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are widespread environmental pollutants that include chemicals that could cause cancer.

The Agency has advised industry that all fat spreads and salad dressings that contain Spanish olive-pomace oil should be recalled unless it can be shown that the products contain acceptably low levels of PAHs. The Agency has stressed that only a very small number of products are likely to be affected by this recall and that retailers should identify the products and alert consumers. The FSA will publish details of these products on its website.

UK produced fat spreads do not use olive-pomace oil. Spanish olive-pomace oil represents around 0.1% of the one million tonnes of vegetable oil consumed each year in the UK.

This advice does not apply to products made from any other olive oils nor to non-Spanish olive-pomace oils.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. The Agency considers that products that contain high levels of olive-pomace oil and have a high level of use, which we consider to be fat spreads and salad dressings should be recalled. The Agency has advised the food industry to recall all fat spreads and salad dressings containing Spanish olive-pomace oil, unless the batch of Spanish olive-pomace oil used in the product contained less than 2 micrograms per kilogram of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) or it can be shown that the final product contains less than 2 micrograms per kilogram BaP.

  2. The advice has been issued to the British Retail Consortium, the Food and Drink Federation and the Margarine and Spreads Association.