People with nut allergies told to temporarily avoid supermarket curries and products containing cumin

People with nut allergies told to temporarily avoid supermarket curries and products containing cumin

The Independent revealed on Saturday that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a nationwide testing programme after traces of almonds were discovered in products not advertised as containing nuts.

Over the weekend Aldi’s Fiesta brand Fajita Dinner Kit was recalled on a precautionary basis – the third product to be affected in the past fortnight. It is feared that peanut and almond proteins may have been used as a cheap substitute for cumin, which is used to enhance flavour in soups, stews and processed meals as well as in curry powder. If eaten by a severe nut-allergy sufferer, the result could be fatal. Experts said yesterday that if they wanted to be completely safe, people with nut allergies should avoid all foods which listed cumin among their ingredients until the results of the FSA’s investigation were published.

“If you want to be cautious, just avoid anything with cumin in it until we know more – ready meals, spices that you use yourself or anything that’s flavoured with cumin such as curries,” said Lindsey McManus, deputy CEO of Allergy UK. “It’s used in lots of things, but it will be in the ingredients list, so if people want to be cautious they can check the label and avoid it.”

Morrisons removed its Fajita Meal Kit from shelves on Thursday after discovering undeclared almond proteins in the seasoning mix. Nut traces were also found in batches of ground cumin at the Bart Ingredients Company, a spice specialist based in Bristol.

On Saturday Aldi also recalled its Fajita Meal Kit, which came from the same supplier as the Morrisons variety. An Aldi spokesman said the safety of its customers was its “No 1 priority”.

Professor Chris Elliott, who led the Government’s inquiry into the horsemeat scandal, told The Independent that the impact on consumers could be “much more serious” because it may lead to people “getting ill or even dying”.

It is thought that food suppliers may have been looking for cheaper alternatives to cumin following a disastrous harvest in India which led to a spike in prices.

The FSA’s sampling programme involves testing batches of ground cumin and cumin seeds bought from supermarkets, grocery shops and wholesalers across the UK and also from consignments stopped at ports.

A spokeswoman said it was advising people with nut allergies to avoid only the three affected products rather than all foods likely to have cumin in them.

By Chris Green,

The Independent, Sunday 15 February 2015

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