Ethylene Oxide (ETO) is a biocide that is used as pesticide or sterilising agent to ensure the microbial load within products does not exceed safe limits. Its mutagenic and carcinogenic properties have been shown in a wide range of studies. It is currently classified as a category 1B mutagen, carcinogen, and toxic compound for reproduction. Following EFSA assessment, it was determined that ETO has no safe health-based guidance values and therefore, it should not be used in food products or food contact materials.
In September 2020, the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) reported ETO contamination in several batches of sesame seeds originating from India, and those being shipped from India by sea to the EU.
In the beginning, it seemed that the only issue was limited to natural materials originating from India. However, the presence of ETO contamination has been confirmed in other materials and unfortunately, highly processed materials are also at risk of being contaminated.
How we are manging our supply chain and minimising risk
We are proud of our quality processes. Our approval process is robust, and suppliers must pass a strict verification process to meet our high-quality standards. All ingredients that arrive at Cambridge Commodities are also assessed even after a supplier has been approved.
Over the years, our quality team has conducted risk assessments of all products to ensure they are not treated with ETO. Following the first detections of ETO in sesame, we have implemented stringent re-evaluation of our products based on the country of origin and manufacture as well as the nature of the material.
We are working closely with our suppliers to ensure they perform a risk assessment of their supply chain. Suppliers are also requested to provide evidence that materials are EU compliant and ETO is not used at any stage of the supply chain.
Our team implemented the testing of high-risk ingredients to validate information from our suppliers and each newly approved or re-approved natural origin ingredient is also tested for ETO.
We are working closely with well-known, accredited laboratories in Europe to perform the tests required. These methods are reliable and accredited (GC-MS/MS) in accordance with current standards and regulations.
Our ETO working group is meeting weekly to discuss current findings and keep our sales team and board up to date with the current situation, enabling us to provide the best service to our customers.
If you have any further questions regarding ETO and testing, please contact a member of our team by clicking here.