The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed that a wide range of dietary supplements sold in the UK have been irradiated, breaking British food legislation. Companies with affected products have been told to remove them from sale.
The only foodstuffs allowed to be irradiated and sold in the UK are herbs and spices - and only if they are labelled to say they have been irradiated.
But in a survey of dietary supplements, prawns and shrimps, and herbs and spices, 42 per cent of dietary supplements (58 out of 138 samples) tested were irradiated, said the FSA. Five out of 202 prawn and shrimp samples were also irradiated. One of the 203 herb and spice samples tested was irradiated but not labelled to say so.
Dr Jon Bell, director of Food Safety Policy at the FSA, said: "These results for dietary supplements are not acceptable. There is no food safety concern, but they are being sold illegally. Consumers should not be misled in this way and the Food Standards Agency has made it clear that the industry must take action to remove affected products."
Food irradiation is a processing technique that helps to reduce the number of food spoiling or disease-causing organisms in foods such as herbs and spices.
There will be a further joint FSA/local authority survey to check that the companies concerned have taken appropriate action.