The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued recall notices this and last week on the vanilla version of the product coming from USN’s manufacturer in Belgium.
The batch contained too high content of copper at 9 mg per kg – parts per million (ppm) and 49.61 mg/kg - ppm of selenium, according to an alert on the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).
The FSA said in a statement: “The batch was found to contain high levels of selenium which may pose a risk to consumers. While occasional consumption would not be of concern, longer term consumption of this product could result in selenosis and should be avoided.”
From trace to toxic
Selenium is an essential trace element, which is toxic if taken in excess.
According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), chronic excess of selenium through dietary intakes above 1,000 microgram (µg) a day can lead to selenosis.
“Characteristic features of selenosis include headache, loss of hair, deformation and loss of nails, skin rash, malodorous (garlic) breath and skin, excessive tooth decay and discoloration, as well as numbness, paralysis and hemiplegia,” it wrote in a 2014 opinion.
EFSA’s predecessor SCF set a tolerable upper intake level of 300 µg per day for all adults.
USN advises consumers to take 110 g servings of its ‘Diet Fuel Ultra Lean’ meal replacement shake one to three times a day.
“Consumers who may have already consumed this batch and are feeling unwell should seek medical advice,” said the FSAI.
Return to sender
USN UK said in a recall statement dated 4th March: “Please return any unopened product to your retailer or to USN UK Limited at the address below with a cover letter and delivery address, and a replacement product will be issued or despatched for delivery.”
No other products are thought to be affected beyond this batch (P1G151106 / 01 - BBE 06/2017).
We contacted the company on the hotline provided for the issue but were told the appropriate people were not available to provide further details on how the problem had occurred.
The company did not respond to our subsequent requests for comment in time for the publication of this article.
Yesterday the UK’s FSA tweeted a warning on the product to its 30,100 followers. USN does not appear to have retweeted it to its 40,500 followers.