For several weeks now, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) has been updating its recall notice for products containing sesame. At the beginning of September, the health authorities were indeed informed of the presence of a chemical, ethylene oxide, above the regulatory limit in many lots of imported sesame seeds.
What is the origin of this contamination?
According to the UFC-Que Choisir, which recalls that it is in total 3,000 tonnes of sesame seeds sent from India who are concerned, Indian producers have voluntarily used this contamination product. “Europe has put a lot of pressure on India to avoid contamination of sesame by salmonella, with one in five samples being checked on this criterion on arrival on the continent. This probably induced in reaction an increased use of decontamination products such as ethylene oxide.”, Writes the consumer organization, which quotes information from the European Commission. But conversely, until then there was no minimum frequency of checks on ethylene oxide, since there was no particular risk.
If the controls have been strengthened in recent months, the UFC Que Choisir believes that this case of contaminated sesame raises the question of the effectiveness of these controls.Shouldn’t we guarantee a minimum frequency of tests on all types of contaminants?”Wonders the UFC Que Choisir. On this subject, the communication service of the European Commission points out that 60,000 tonnes of sesame seeds are imported from India each year, and that the analytical capacities are not infinite.
Where can I find out about the recalled lots?
In the immediate future, people consuming sesame-based products are invited to regularly consult the DGCCRF website and its dedicated Excel workbook, which specifies the recalled batches and their minimum durability dates. Rusks, cereal bars, burgers, flour, hummus, tahini … Many food categories are concerned, as well as many brands. Unfortunately, the origin of sesame is not generally mentioned on the packaging.