(7/19/2001) Here's another overblown story that would have you believe that a company knowingly sells a product that is hazardous to your health, without concerns for your well-being.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Subject: SOYA SAUCE - CANCEROUS
Please Forward this to people you know who might be using soy sauce or oyster sauce in their diet. I found one of these items in my pantry and is now in the garbage-es
Oyster Sauce Dear All
High levels of a cancer-causing chemical have been found in Chinese sauces used in many kitchens. Health Canada is investigating after British authorities ordered stores to clear the shelves of Amoy Oyster Sauce because it contains dangerous levels of the carcinogenic chemical 3-MCPD. The sauces, including the hugely popular Lee Kum Kee oyster and soy sauces, contained as much as 3,000 times the recommended amounts of the chemical.
In Hong Kong, manufacturers Amoy Food and Lee Kum Kee said they planned to solve the problem by changing the recipe by the end of the year. Amoy said it has stopped supplying its oyster sauce to the European Union until >the recipe is changed, but it will not withdraw the sauces from sale elsewhere.
Amoy and Lee Kum Kee have been around for generations. They are the Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola of Chinese sauces," said Victor Wong of the Vancouver Association of Chinese Canadians.
I M P O R T A N T
Please inform all at home, friends, relatives and families that the following soya sauces are banned with immediate effect.
1) AMOY SOYA SAUCE, and 2) PEARL RIVER BRIDGE SOYA SAUCE. (applies for both Dark & Light Superior Soya Sauces)
Both soya brands are contaminated with CANCER causing CHLORINE.
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Since the crux of this warning is that Health Canada is investigating the situation, I decided to drop them a note. Here's the response I got from Belinda Lo, in the Bureau of Chemical Safety, Health Products and Food Branch:
"In October 1999, a United Kingdom (U.K.) survey revealed that this compound was present in a number of Chinese sauces (soy, mushroom and oyster). While most samples contained very low concentrations of 3-MCPD, some demonstrated amounts in excess of a recommended guideline level established by the U.K.
"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has conducted a nationwide investigation, including sampling and analysis, on various brands of oriental sauces for this contaminant, particularly brands similar to those surveyed in the U.K. Residues of this contaminant have been found at various levels ranging from very low levels to relatively high ones. Health Canada has completed a preliminary health risk assessment of the data submitted by CFIA and, as part of this assessment, has reviewed the results of pertinent toxicological studies. On November 25, 1999, Health Canada advised CFIA that it was instituting a 1 part per million provisional guideline for the maximum level of this contaminant in such sauces. Health Canada has concluded that while levels in some sauces were relatively high, sporadic or short term exposure to such levels of MCPD in these sauces is not considered to be an immediate health hazard. Nevertheless, Health Canada concluded that insofar as 3-MCPD is an undesirable contaminant, every effort should be pursued to minimize exposure to this substance over the longer term.
"Since April 1, 2000, a Health Canada guideline of 1 part per million for 3-MCPD in oriental soy sauces and oyster flavoured sauces has been enforced. CFIA advised importers and manufacturers that levels of the contaminant had to fall below 1.0 ppm by April 1, 2000 or product would be subject to compliance action. Industry was advised to take immediate steps to comply with the provisional guideline. Health Canada will further develop its health risk assesment and CFIA will continue to monitor the corrective actions taken by the industry. Health Canada also indicated that the provisional guideline may be lowered in future.
"You can visit Canadian Food Inspection Agency web site (A HREF="http://www.cfia-acia.agr.ca" TARGET="new">www.cfia-acia.agr.ca) for questions and answers or further information on this issue."
Lee Kum Kee, one of the companies singled out in the advisory has a notice on their web site that tells their side of the UK survey, with some interesting follow-up information the warning above conveniently omits. Inaccurate, alarmist warnings like the one above don't do anyone any favors. Break this chain.