Edit (Moderator): Moved from Human Interest to Food and Drink.
Link : http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=573&ncid=757&e=8&u=/nm/20041029/od_nm/paprika_dc
A woman packs fresh paprika at the Kalocsai Paprika Rt., Hungary.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU governments will have to make up their own minds over whether to outlaw Hungarian paprika over fears of a cancer-causing chemical and there are no plans to impose an EU-wide ban, officials said on Friday.
Hungary's government has detected high levels of aflatoxin, a toxin that can damage the human liver and may cause cancer, in paprika stored in public warehouses.
Food retailers have been ordered to withdraw all products containing the fiery red spice -- a defining ingredient in the national dish, goulash, and used in most Hungarian meat dishes.
"It's not life-threatening ... and we are not threatening to ban Hungarian pepper or paprika," a Commission official said.
"We've been informed by the Hungarian authorities about this product, and all EU member states have also been informed. They can now check if they have any Hungarian pepper -- and if they want, they can take it off the market," she said.
Hungarian consumers, who on average eat a pound of paprika every year, were told to abstain until further notice. The government tests showed concentrations of aflatoxin 10-15 times higher than permitted in some samples.
Aflatoxins occur naturally and are produced by molds in soil, decaying vegetation, hay and deteriorating grains. Their growth is aided by high moisture content and high temperature.
The EU sets maximum residue levels for the amount of chemicals permitted in products for human consumption following assessments of the risks they pose to human health.
Hungary is one of the biggest paprika producers in the world. It exports about 5,000 tons per year, most of it to Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Slovakia.