High levels of dioxin were not found in guar gum in Evira’s study


<div>The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira took samples of guar gum intended for food purposes on 13.8.2007 for analyses of dioxin levels. The study showed that the dioxin levels in all of the samples were clearly below the upper legislated limit, which according to the interpretation by the European Commission is 0.75 picograms per gram of fresh weight of the examined product. </div>

The samples were taken from Uniferm’s warehouse in Vantaa, Fazer’s bakery in Vaarala and Valio’s juice factory in Pitäjänmäki.  Uniferm is the largest direct importer of guar gum for food purposes to Finland from India, whereas Fazer and Valio use guar gum in many of their products and these companies also have large production volumes and their products are sold in the whole country. In addition, two food supplements were examined in which guar gum is used as an ingredient, which means that the guar gum comprises a relatively large proportion of the product. The samples were examined in the laboratory of the National Public Health Institute in Kuopio.

What we know

Evira’s study supports the current view that the problem is connected with the guar gum supplied by one company, India Glycols. In Europe the tracking of any contaminated guar gum batches will continue based on the information available and the European Commission is still waiting for detailed information from the Indian authorities. Because the source of the contamination can not be known without the report from the Indian authorities, it is difficult to get a general view on the situation and on the extent of the problem.

It is known that the high dioxin levels in guar gum are related to pentachlorophenol. But it is not known where and at which stage of the processing the contamination has occurred. Based on the information available the possible explanations are that pentachlorophenol has been used as a pesticide in guar gum that was not intended for food uses or that pentachlorophenol was used as a processing aid when preparing the guar gum.

How will we continue

Food legislation requires that the companies shall, at all of the stages of preparation and distribution, make sure that the foodstuffs fulfil the requirements set down for them and it also obligates the companies to ensure that the requirements are fulfilled. Evira considers that the quality control of a company’s internal activities and raw materials to be used is included in a well functioning internal control system.

For the purpose of the study conducted by Evira, samples were taken both from the raw material imported directly from India and from two large companies that use guar gum. In the future the authority will be monitoring information from the other EU member countries and the Commission and will take action if necessary. In addition, Customs have intensified the monitoring of batches of imported guar gum intended for food uses by searching for the presence of pentachlorophenol in them.

The research results are available on Evira’s Internet pages (in Finnish): http://www.evira.fi/portal/fi/elintarvikkeet/elintarviketietoa/lisaaineet/guarkumi/

For additional information, please contact:
Senior Officer Taina Rautio tel. 050 492 1998 (control)
Senior Scientific Officer Anja Hallikainen, tel. 050 386 8433 (safety)
Professor Terttu Vartiainen, National Public Health Institute, Kuopio tel.  0400 958 518 (dioxin analysis)
Director General Jaana Husu-Kallio tel. 0400 291 910

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