"Too little information is dangerous", for European suppliers of the food additive E425, otherwise known as konjac, the full force of this dictum has fallen on their increasingly broad shoulders in recent weeks.
"Once a rumour starts, it grows in importance and reaches ridiculous proportions," Philippe Vieille, Managing Director of Kalys, a French konjac supplier, told FoodNavigator.com. "Ill-informed media have warped information about konjac and branded it as dangerous - this is clearly not the case," Vieille added.
Current mixed messages surrounding konjac are inextricably linked to recent confectionery recalls across the globe. Regulatory bodies from Australia to the United States have banned mini-cup jelly products, traditionally manufactured in South-East Asia, that contain konjac. The legislative steps were taken after the fruit gel sweets, seen as a choking hazard, were linked to several deaths around the world. But the regulatory bodies have not banned konjac.
" I totally support the recent move by the European Commission to suspend the placing on the market of jelly minicups containing E425 konjac, konjac gum or konjac glucomannan," said Vieille. " But, to brand konjac as a dangerous additive, as certain media have done, is totally abusive. The use of konjac in many food preparations is totally without danger, providing that the industrial process conforms to current legislation. Konjac is approved by WHO, European Union and the US Food and Drug Administration, to name but a few," stressed Vieille.
His is a valuable argument to be taken seriously by the industry and the media alike. Ill-informed words can quickly translate into lost sales."We have had cases where customers of ours have read, or heard, incorrect information and then promptly suspended all orders with us. Only after we have provided the customer with legal and health information pertaining to konjac has the company renewed the order. It is the rumours that are dangerous, not konjac," said Vieille.
In Europe up to one per cent of konjac, commonly used for gel strength and viscosity in confectionery, can be used as an additive in a food product.