Allergy alert widens as undeclared almond found in paprika

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

One of the products recalled in Norway
One of the products recalled in Norway

Related tags Peanut Allergy

A recall in the UK due to paprika containing undeclared almond has widened an investigation into substitution with nut proteins as several EU nations have also warned consumers.

Santa Maria UK is recalling its Discovery Taco Seasoning product as it contains almond, which is not declared on the label.

It follows Morrison’s Fajita Meal Kit and Aldi Fiesta brand Fajita Dinner Kit for which the FSA issued allergy alerts last week.

Investigations found a spice mix supplied by Santa Maria UK and used in the three products contained undeclared almond protein. 

EU-wide reaction

Food safety agencies Fødevarestyrelsen (Denmark), Livsmedelsverket (Sweden) and Mattilsynet (Norway) have all issued warnings for Santa Maria products.

Santa Maria paprika 2
Mattilsynet revealed 26 products were withdrawn

Fødevarestyrelsen said Santa Maria, based in Brondby, recalled a number of products sold across the country​ in COOP Danmark, Dansk Supermarked, Reitan Distribution and Dagrofa SuperGros.

Livsmedelsverket reported the spices were recalled from the market because laboratory testing found traces of almond in paprika.

Mattilsynet revealed 26 products were withdrawn with different expiry dates as Santa Maria uses paprika in various items. Norgesgruppen, COOP and ICA supermarkets are affected​.

Industry testing in England revealed the paprika in the spice mix was the most likely source.

However, there is no evidence that the products are linked to the recall of Bart's Ground Cumin​ due to undeclared presence of almond.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it will be asking industry to ensure that paprika products are included in their testing regimes. Testing of cumin and products containing cumin will also continue.

Undeclared almond protein was identified as part of a sampling programme by the FSA after batches of ground cumin and products containing ground cumin tested positive for undeclared peanut protein in the US and Canada.

Adulteration in the spotlight

Neogen said the discovery of undeclared peanut proteins has put the issue of adulteration of the supply chain in the front-of-mind once again. 

Adulteration of cumin with peanut and almond has been reported in the USA and Canada where testing has uncovered high levels of allergenic protein.

Peanut Neogen
Neogen responds to cumin and seasoning contamination in UK and US

To protect brands of suppliers and processors, and to protect allergic consumers, testing is a viable option, said the firm.

Steve Chambers, Neogen Europe’s sales and marketing director, said food allergic consumers and producers rely on the accurate labelling of products to protect themselves from food allergens.

“Through the use of our validated testing kits, our accredited laboratory services and the experience of our technical staff, we have been working alongside the market to reduce uncertainty,” ​he said.

“With our tests, we have ruled out cross-reactivity as a reason for positive peanut results with spice blends and cumin, which is an obvious concern for the food industry.

“We are confident that our tests are giving a true detection of peanut and almond from testing we have carried out. Accurate and timely testing can protect businesses in the food value chain — and their consumers.”

Jason Feeney, COO at the FSA, said there is no evidence of food fraud at this stage.

“The FSA is investigating these incidents and, where potential problems are identified, we are alerting the public. We are dealing with this as part of our normal incident response, and our first priority is for the safety of allergic consumers.”

The agency said that people with a nut allergy who have bought the products should not consume them and should return them to where they were purchased.

Levels of almond protein found are low and no cases of allergic reactions linked to the affected products have been reported.

Santa Maria recalls

Santa Maria UK confirmed it was recalling its Discovery Taco Seasoning (30g) from England on a precautionary basis as it may contain almond protein in the seasoning mix.

Almond protein is not declared within the allergy advice on the label. Batches affected have a best before date of 24.06.2017.

“The health of our customers is our priority and we are advising those who have bought the product, and have an allergy to almonds or other nuts, not to eat it, but to return it to store for a full refund​,” said a statement from Santa Maria UK.

“This decision has been made on the back of an extensive testing process into the possible presence of almond protein and no other Discovery products are known to be affected.  

“We remain committed to delivering the best quality products to our customers and we have launched a full investigation to ensure that this does not happen again.” ​ 

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