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UAE bans soya products from East Asia
Dubai |By Anupa Prathap Mathew | 19-07-2001
The United Arab Emirates banned the import and sale of soya products yesterday and ordered the withdrawal of all stocks nationwide. The General Secretariat of Municipalities said it had imposed the ban after the products were found in UK tests to contain excessive levels of a carcinogenic chemical.
The British Food Standards Agency has warned consumers to avoid certain brands of soy sauce and soya-based products from Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore after finding unacceptable levels of 3-monocholoropropane or 3-MCPD, a chemical which can cause cancer if consumed regularly.
Municipalities told shops and supermarkets to remove Asian soya-based products, including the popular soy sauce, from shelves and ordered restaurants not to serve them.
Adnan Ali Jallaf, head of the Food Control Section, said the ban was a temporary precaution until further tests and consultations are conducted. "The Food Standards Agency in the UK issued a list of products that were found to have high levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals," he said.
"The products contained excessive levels of 3-monocholoropropane or 3-MCPD, which is carcinogenic in nature. "We don't have any current tests to check the soya sauce products available in the market so we issued a complete ban with immediate effect."
He said that economically it was an expensive measure, but safety was the main issue. "Public health is our prime concern," he said. "In fact, the carcinogen would only be harmful to people who use these products on a daily basis over a long period of time.
"Occasional consumers are unlikely to be harmed, but we didn't want to take any chances and issued the ban, which will stay until Dubai Municipality takes a final decision in this regard after consulting with other authorities locally and internationally."
He added that the civic body has begun to impound the banned products from the market and restaurants that serve Far Eastern cuisine, such as Thai, Chinese and Japanese which use them extensively in food preparation.
"Traders can bring in new brands from other countries, but they will have be certified by an international body such as the FSA first," he said. "The problem with 3-MCPD is that there are no current international legal standards for its level in soy sauce products so it makes it difficult for us to monitor."
Chefs at restaurants said the ban would have a limited impact on their menus as soy sauce from other countries is available in the market. Joris Rycken, Executive Sous Chef at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, which has Thai and Japanese restaurants, said, "The ban of Asian brands may affect the cuisine of Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants, as soy sauce is traditionally used in Eastern cooking.
"But the kitchens can still be run normally as you have American and other brands available in the market which can be used instead." Bahrain and Kuwait yesterday joined Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia in also imposing bans on the import of some soy sauce products from Asia
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), July 19, 2001
Wait til they test the soy products we produce here and find they're even worse (genetically modified and roundup-ready). This stuff is toxic yet most believe soy is the "future" for healthy nourishment. My suggestion: if you consume a lot of soy, read everything you can find on this "protein" supplement before continuing your quest for health and longevity.
-- Ken (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 20, 2001.