SPAIN – Nestlé, the world’s largest food and drink company, and Mars, a family owned multinational food manufacturer, have recalled ice cream products after an ethylene oxide (ETO) contamination scare.
According to a list drawn up by FACUA, the Andalucian consumer watchdog for market abuses, in the scare involving different ice creams possibly being contaminated by the presence of traces of ethylene oxide, there could be as many as 46 varieties of products made by Froneri, a Nestlé ice cream maker.
The company’s brands in Spain include Milka, Toblerone, Nuii, Oreo, Princesa, La Lechera, and Smarties.
Marsis withdrawing several batches of Snickers, Twix and Bounty ice cream from supermarkets in Spain, where these ice creams are marketed through the company Frigo which is owned by Unilever.
The Spanish Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (AESAN) has warned of the presence of ethylene oxide in the stabilizing additive E410 also called locust bean or carob gum in several batches of ice cream produced by the company.
The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) classifies ethylene oxide as an organic compound commonly used as disinfectant in hospitals, as a carcinogen.
Its use in food production is banned in the European Union but third world countries use it to combat fungi and bacteria.
As stated by Euro weekly, FACUA has demanded that Nestlé and Froneri act with transparency and make public the complete list of affected products.
To date, the only manufacturer that has so far made public a list of products that must be withdrawn in Spain, is Mars.
The consumer association is advising users who have recently purchased these affected products, to refrain from consuming them, and return them to wherever they bought them from and ask for a refund.
Froneri, in a statement on its website, said that, at present, they are confiscating those batches of products that have used the ingredient that contains trace amounts of ETO.
It assured that they are working in full cooperation with the health authorities to quickly withdraw all the affected batches from the points of sale.
The statement on the manufacturing company’s website emphasized that the ETO content is negligible in the final product and elucidates that based on external and in-house analysis,it is highly unlikely to pose a risk to consumer health.
The recalled products, have a search engine where consumers can enter the first six digits of the batch and verify if they are affected.
Similarly, AESAN has a list with information related to food companies on the recovery of their affected products, which includes both Mars, and Froneri / Nestlé, as reported by 20minutos.es.
According to the Finnish Food Safety Authority, it is not possible to set a safe level of exposure for the substance.
While small amounts of ethylene oxide are not known to cause adverse effects, long-term consumption is dangerous.
In June, more than 60 popular types of ice cream sold in France were recalled due to excess levels of the same chemical.