The presence of an unapproved substance in sesame seeds from India has elicited a series of product recalls across Europe.
This alert was first brought up by Belgium in early September but now perturbs almost 20 countries. Ethylene oxide starts functioning as a genotoxic carcinogen after regular consumption.

Sesame seeds were utilized in the flour production and products include bread and bagels have been recalled.

Many supermarket chains in Belgium have recollected products from shelves since they contained high amount of residues in the sesame seeds present within them.

Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta,Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were using sesame seeds for a variety of products and are all now affected.

In Belgium, Soubry, Soezie, Colruyt, Albert Heijn, Delhaize, Focaccia BV, La Lorraine Bakery Group, ’t Bakhuisje, l’Artemeersmolen and Aveve have called for recalls. In France, Auchan recalled some bagels, so did Aldente GmbH in Germany.

Officials advised people who having the products not to eat them and to return and get refund for the items from where they were bought.

Using ethylene oxide as a constituent of plant protection products is banned under EU regulation but its role as part of biocidal products is permitted for certain items.

Ethylene oxide, as a fumigant, is used to control insects for spices, seasonings, and foodstuffs. It is implemented instead of high temperature procedures that may damage certain products like spices, herbs, and seeds.

U.S. spice industry uses Ethylene oxide to avert microbial contaminants including Salmonella and E. coli, lower bacterial loads, yeast and mold, coliforms and other pathogens.

Towards the end of 2019, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency suggested to set up maximum residue limits (MRLs) for ethylene oxide on dried vegetables and sesame seeds to allow the sale of foods containing such residues. It is an insecticide registered for application on whole or ground spices and processed natural seasonings in Canada.

The MRLs decided for ethylene oxide of 7 ppm are the same as that of the tolerance limit of America. No Codex MRLs for ethylene oxide in or on any commodity have been listed till now.

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