9,300 contaminated foodstuffs, including ice cream

Nobody wants to ingest fungicide and yet … The list of food products concerned continues to grow in this European health scandal.

Open your cupboards, fridge and freezer and start sorting. No less than 9,300 lots – biscuits, ice cream, cereals, etc. – have been identified as contaminated with ethylene oxide, an insecticide banned in Europe. Since the alert launched in September 2020 by the NGO Foodwatch, the repression of fraud strives to list all contaminated food products.

Lately, jars of ice cream and popsicle sticks have been singled out. Batches of ice creams and sorbets from Auchan, Casino, Nestlé, Toupargel, Carrefour, Miko, Thiriet, Intermarché, Aldi, Leclerc, Lidl, Leader Price Monoprix or even Système U are concerned (see the full list of contaminated food on the DGCCRF website).

Health risks without a dose threshold

Among the thousands of batches contaminated by this carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic disinfectant banned in Europe, we also find pepper, ginger, shallots, coffee, rusks, bread, cookies, prepared dishes, etc., Foodwatch list.

ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) indicates that ethylene oxide presents health risks without a dose threshold: “Even very low levels of exposure are associated with an excess risk of cancer”. Concretely, it is a gaseous disinfectant, generally used to avoid the risks of salmonella and molds.

Very few controls on ethylene oxide

It was in Belgium in the fall of 2020 that this health scandal began. A batch of sesame analyzed showed traces of ethylene oxide. Immediately, France sounded the alarm and asked the Fraud Repression to carry out checks. Since then, some 7,000 contaminated batches had been identified last July, a figure which rose to 9,300 in August.

The difficulty stems above all from the lack of control over this fungicide, which is banned in Europe. “The manufacturers tell us ‘it is a prohibited product so we did not check …’. Many waited for the national or European authorities to contact them directly, without suspending their production”, said Ingrid Kragl, of the NGO Foodwatch, in Sud-Ouest. It regrets that no sanction is applied and that nothing obliges brands and operators to warn consumers on their website. The only hope: that the withdrawals of lots have been carried out as requested by the Repression of Fraud.

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