Date Published: 17 March 2009

Active brand peanut butter contaminated with excess levels of aflatoxins

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

Active brand peanut butter has been found to be contaminated with excess levels of aflatoxins. The Agency has issued a Food Alert for Action advising local authorities that if any of these products are found during routine inspections, local authority food law enforcement officers should ensure the products are withdrawn from sale and destroyed.

The maximum permitted limits in groundnuts and processed products are 2 µg/kg for aflatoxin B1, and 4 µg/kg for total aflatoxin, and these limits are enforced under the Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2007, as amended.

The Active brand peanut butter is distributed in the UK by Marduro, believed to be from Croydon area and is manufactured by Marduro in Ghana.

Despite enquiries by local authorities in London, the Agency has been unable to establish distribution details. In previous cases believed to have involved this company, distribution was restricted to the London area and appeared to be distributed through direct van sales, where retailers who sell African or Afro-Caribbean food products are the main clients.

Product details

The Active brand peanut butter is believed to be sold in large plastic jars (approximately 352g) with a yellow lid and a red/yellow label. The wording 'Active Peanut Butter' is written boldly on the label but the date marking and batch code are handwritten and illegible. To assist local authorities in correct identification of these products, pictures can be found at the link below.

Actions to be taken by local authorities

These products do not comply with the requirements specified in the Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2007, as amended due to excess aflatoxin levels.

If any of these products are found during routine inspections, enforcement officers should ensure that they are withdrawn from sale and detained pending further action e.g. formal sampling for official control purposes, if necessary using powers under the Food Safety Act 1990.

Other sizes/packaging of this product may exist. If local authorities find any other sizes or packaging of the same product, they should sample the products formally in accordance with the appropriate legislation for mycotoxins for official control purposes and notify the Agency of any results obtained. Local authorities should also ensure appropriate enforcement action is taken.

The science behind the story

Aflatoxins are a type of toxin found naturally in some foods. They are produced by certain moulds that grow on foods in tropical and sub-tropical countries. There maybe an increased risk of cancer in people whose diets include high levels of aflatoxins. For this reason, in the UK and the rest of the EU, there are legal limits for aflatoxins in foods, to make sure that people take in as little of them as possible.


Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK.

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