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EFSA's 20 September 2013 (4) report includes data on 3-MCPD levels in food, based on analytical results collected in European Member States from 2009 to 2011.
Free 2- and 3-MCPD in the analyzed matrix should be reported separately from 2-and 3-MCPD fatty acid esters, even though both forms are qualified as 3-MCPD.
You have to eat soy sauce with high levels of 3-MCPD regularly over many years for there to be a health risk.
The latest results are an improvement on tests conducted in 2001 when nearly a quarter of soy sauce samples contained 3-MCPD.
You have to eat soy sauce with high levels of 3-MCPD regularly over many years for there to be a health risk, which is why this is an issue for the Chinese and south east Asian community in particular.
Director Dr Tim Lobstein said: "Soy sauce is responsible for about 20 billion micrograms of 3-MCPD in our diets while bread, crackers and burgers alone are responsible for nearly 50 billion.
High doses of 3-MCPD, which is formed in the manufacture of a savoury food ingredient, have been shown to cause cancer in rats.
3-MCPD was first discovered in hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), a seasoning ingredient, in soy sauce and similar foods.
The EFSA report (1) assessed data on the occurrence of 3-MCPD in foods from 14 EU members from 2009-2011 and found that margarines and similar products contributed to 13-83% of the total exposure to the contaminant, bread and rolls (in which margarines are used) contributed to 6-26%, vegetable oils and fats contributed to 5-74%, fine bakery wares 4-29% and preserved meals 3-18%.
As it is possible that these or similar products are also available in the UK, the food and retail industry have been contacted to ensure that their products comply with the recommended limit for 3-MCPD of 10 parts per billion.
The JFSSG are to check soy sauces in Britain for levels of 3-MCPD which is usually in safe doses in the manufacture of a food ingredient.
The Joint Food Safety and Standards Group (JFSSG) has already contacted trade associations and suppliers to alert them to reports that some samples of the product found abroad contained too much 3-MCPD.