A number of product recalls in both the US and Canada have been linked to adulterated ground cumin which contains the potentially life-threatening allergens ground peanut and almond powders.
The UK Food Standards Agency said it was aware that certain batches of ground cumin and products containing ground cumin have tested positive for undeclared peanut protein in the US and Canada. “However, there is no evidence that the affected products have been distributed to the UK,” it added.
It is believed the contaminated cumin is of Indian origin which was routed through Turkey on its way to the US and, possibly, European markets.
Third generation UK flavours house Unbar Rothon said in a press release that it immediately checked with its supplier, which confirmed there was neither peanut nor almond in the cumin it supplied.
The supplier, which is BRC accredited, has been used by Unbar Rothon for many years without any reported incidences of allergen cross contamination. It procures cumin from farmers in the desert state of Rajasthan in an area where no peanuts are grown and it does not handle peanuts. Its processes are limited to cleaning and grinding the cumin.
Recognising that there could be a temptation to indulge in food fraud due to shortages and in a further move to assure its customers, Unbar Rothon despatched samples of its cumin for challenge testing at an independent UK laboratory.
“Happily, the challenge testing was able to confirm our findings that we have a clean bill of health – there is no contamination in our cumin,” said Unbar Rothon director, Richard Rothon (pictured, examining spices under a microscope).
Unbar Rothon is based in Billericay, Essex.