Restrictions on guar gum imports into the EU are causing headaches for manufacturers and ingredient suppliers, who are now responsible for proving all consignments from India are free of the banned toxin pentachlorophenol (PCP).
An additive widely used in foods from yoghurts to ice cream as a thickening agent, most guar gum (E412) is produced in India.
Currently, however, only one Indian laboratory is certified to test for PCP, pushing the burden of compliance on to EU importers, said ingredients supplier Danisco, which buys large amounts of guar. "The tests are expensive, but we're also having to tie up more working capital in stock because consignments are held at ports awaiting test results."
The Indian firm believed to be responsible for a recent contamination with PCP was not one of Danisco's approved suppliers, it added. "This makes it even more frustrating. We already have an extensive testing programme and all our suppliers are carefully audited. We're being made responsible for other people's errors."
Traders and manufacturers would initially bear the costs, but would try and pass them back up the chain, predicted contract laboratory Eurofins, which offers PCP testing services.
The new testing regime, which also applies to compound products containing significant amounts of guar gum, was introduced after high levels of PCP were detected in guar gum imported by Swiss firm Unipektin.