A DANGEROUS dye has been found in a range of chutneys and relishes made by Huddersfield firm Shaws.
The red colourant, Sudan I, is normally used in petrol, solvents and shoe polish - and it can cause cancer.
French scientists discovered the dangerous chemical two weeks ago in chilli powder used in jars of relish produced at the firm's Aspley factory.
Shops have been ordered to scrap 14 products while Shaw's bosses count the cost of the contamination.
Thousands of jars and packets produced between 2001 and January this year were affected.
As well as a huge British market, the Silver Street firm exports to Europe, America and Canada.
A similar alert has been sounded about some Rajah products.
Shaws managing director Terence Peace estimated the cost to the company at £100,000.
He said Shaws, which was founded in 1889 and employs 12 people, was doing all it could to help the Food Standards Agency.
He asked customers for their support. "We will survive if our customers remain loyal to us. I am sure they know it is not our fault.
"We are probably the tip of a huge iceberg," added Mr Peace.
"We have been put at the forefront of this simply because it was picked up in our export order in France.
"We are at the front line of what will be an industry problem."
He added: "This is a dreadful situation."
Mr Peace said products with a "best before" date later than February 1, 2006, were clear.
Shaws bought the contaminated chilli from a reputable importer.
Investigations are continuing in India to find out how the dye came to be in the powder.
The Food Standards Agency has urged householders to throw away any contaminated products and stressed there is no immediate risk to health.
But David Statham, the FSA's director of food standards and enforcement, said: "There should not be any Sudan I in food."
West Yorkshire Trading Standards officers and Kirklees Environmental Health Department will be making sure that all affected products are taken off the shelves of shops and catering establishments.
Clr Graham Clarke, chairman of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: "Thanks to the responsible attitude taken by Shaws, I am confident that Any risks posed to consumers have been minimised."
Anyone with any queries can phone a consumer helpline on 0113 3 848 848.
PRODUCTS HIT BY THE SCARE
Retail-size products: Red Pepper & Aubergine Relish 280g, Hot Mango Chutney 300g, Flaming Hot Chutney 300g, Spicy Apricot Chutney 300g, Mild Chilli Relish 300g, Tomato Relish 300g, Onion Chutney 300g, Curried Fruit Chutney 300g, Barbecue Relish 300g.
Catering size products: Tomato Relish 2.4Kg, Mild Chilli Relish 2.4Kg, Tomato Chilli Relish 2.4Kg, Chilli Relish 2.4Kg, Red Hot Chilli Sauce 2.3Kg.
The list of B.E. International products identified are all sold under the Rajah name and have a best before date of July 18, 2005.
They include Tandoori Masala seasoning sold in 100g, 400g, 1kg and 8kg containers; and 100g, 400g and 1kg packets of Chicken Seasoning.
The remaining three products are Jerk Seasoning, Chilli and Lemon Seasoning, and Oriental Noodle Seasoning - all in 100g packets.
SUDAN 1: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
WHAT is Sudan I?
Sudan I is a red dye that is used for colouring solvents, oils, waxes, petrol, and shoe and floor polishes. It is not allowed to be added to food in the UK and the EU.
WHICH products contain Sudan I?
It has been found in some chilli powder imported from India, some relishes, chutneys and seasonings.
IF I have eaten a contaminated chilli product, has my health been damaged?
There is no immediate risk of illness. If you have eaten a product occasionally any possible risk is likely to be very small. Frequent eating of contaminated products over a long period of time would increase that risk.
WHAT health effects could Sudan I have?
Sudan I has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and these findings could also be significant for human health. It does not necessarily mean that you will develop cancer.
ARE some people more likely to be affected by Sudan I than others?
The health risk would be greater for people who frequently eat large amounts of products containing Sudan I.
COULD I already have some products at home that contain Sudan I?
It is possible. Check the list of affected products and if you have any of these, throw them away or return them.
COULD restaurant meals or takeaways be affected?
Some restaurants and takeaways have been using products containing Sudan I.
WHAT is the Food Standards Agency doing ?
It is working with local authorities to stop products containing Sudan I from being sold. It is also asking companies to ensure that they are withdrawn and recalled.
HOW can I contact the manufacturers?
For Rajah products, call 0800 072 1122. For Shaws call 01484 539999.