Almond Contamination

FSA's unlabelled nut probe focuses on paprika

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Paprika was the most likely source of undeclared almond protein: FSA
Paprika was the most likely source of undeclared almond protein: FSA

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A batch of paprika was the most likely source of undeclared almond protein, which has sparked three allergy alerts, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The latest alert – concerning Discovery Taco Seasoning issued on February 16 – followed previous recalls on unlabelled almond protein discovered in Aldi’s Fiesta brand Fajita Dinner Kit on February 14 and Morrisons’ Fajita Meal Kit on February 12.

All three products have been linked to one supplier. “Investigations indicated that a spice mix supplied by Santa Maria UK Ltd used in the three products​ [from Discovery, Morrisons and Aldi] contained undeclared almond protein,” ​said the FSA.

‘The most likely source’

“Subsequent industry testing revealed that the paprika in the spice mix was the most likely source. Further investigations into the supply chain of paprika are continuing.”

The withdrawals follow the recall of a batch of Bart’s Ground Cumin on January 31, due to the undeclared presence of almond. There was no evidence to link the cumin product to the Santa Maria UK Ltd, said the FSA.

FSA chief operating officer Jason Feeney said: “The FSA is investigating these incidents and, where potential problems are identified, we are alerting the public. We are dealing with this as part of our normal incident response, and our first priority is for the safety of allergic consumers.

“There is no evidence of food fraud at this stage but the Food Crime Unit will be involved if evidence of food crime emerges.”

Paprika products are including in testing

The FSA has urged the food industry to ensure that paprika products are included in their testing regimes. Testing of cumin and products containing cumin by the FSA and the industry will also continue.

Undeclared almond recalls

  • Discovery Taco Seasoning, February 16
  • Aldi’s Fiesta brand Fajita Dinner Kit, February 14
  • Morrison’s Fajita Meal Kit, February 12
  • Bart's Ground Cumin, January 31

People with a nut allergy who have bought these products have been advised to return them to where they were purchased. The levels of almond protein found in these products were low and, so far, no cases of allergic reactions linked to the affected products have been reported to the FSA.

The undeclared almond protein was identified as part of a sampling programme initiated by the FSA after batches of ground cumin and products containing ground cumin tested positive for undeclared peanut protein in North America.

Meanwhile, the episode was the first real test​ of the UK food supply chain, since the horsemeat crisis of 2013, said professor Chris Elliott, head of Queen’s University’s Institute for Global Security in Belfast.

Some sources have suggested the appearance of the undeclared almond proteins may be linked to the failure of India’s cumin crop. 

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