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The Organic Research Centre - Elm Farm ========================================================= December 8th 2008

Soya and Oats contamination

Real concerns over chemical inclusions

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has received information that melamine (the chemical at the centre of all those recent dairy and food scares in China) has been found in the UK in imports of "organic" soya expeller for feed use.

The FSA advises that "in line with their responsibilities under Articles 15, 17, 18 and 20 of EC Regulation 178/2002 on the general principles of food law -- feed business operators cease all use of and quarantine any supplies from the People's Republic of China of soya expeller in their possession and have the material sampled for the presence of melamine and related compounds (cyanuric acid, ammelide and ammeline)."

Meanwhile, some batches of "organic" oats being sold in the UK have been found to contain one or both of the pesticide ingredients chlormequat and glyphosate following routine analysis of products undertaken by the Government's Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) earlier this year.

The full extent of the contamination, the source of contamination, and the number of products affected beyond those identified by the Pesticides Safety Directorate earlier in the year has still to be determined. Certifying Bodies are hoping that likely source of this embarrassing problem is simple substitution of non-organic for organic oats along the supply chain.

As part of its own investigation into the source of the problem, the Soil Association says it randomly selected 12 oat-based products currently on sale, and sent them for analysis at the end of November. Soil Association Certification certified six of the products and other organic certification bodies approved the other six. The results proved alarming - all but two of the products tested positive - with some pesticide residues found in excess of the levels logged by Pesticide Safety Directorate but within Maximum Residue Levels permitted by the European Union.