Pub chefs have been placed on alert over Food Standard Agency (FSA) fears that foods containing cancer-causing chemicals could have reached many kitchens.
The Government warned caterers to be vigilant after 350 food products were found to contain the carcinogenic food dye Sudan I. The outbreak was triggered after food service supplier Premier Foods used contaminated chilli powder as an ingredient in its Worcester sauce. This product was then employed in the manufacture of other ready meals and sauces.
FSA chief executive Dr John Bell said: "Sudan I could contribute to an increased risk of cancer. However, at the levels present, the risk is likely to be very small. The agency is working with the industry to ensure that any remaining affected products are speedily removed."
Premier Foods has advised caterers to withdraw any products containing its Worcester sauce from sale. The company is also reported to be seeking legal action against the firm which supplied it with the contaminated chilli powder.
A company spokesperson said: "The ingredient was supplied from a reputable UK source, who themselves had been supplied by another UK company. Premier received written assurance that the chilli powder did not contain Sudan I."
Heinz and Booker have also recalled FSA black-listed products, including salad dressings and cooking sauces as a "precautionary measure". Customers are advised to return any contaminated products to their supplier, where a full refund will be given, according to Heinz and Booker.
For more information and a full listing of Sudan I contaminated products visit www.food.gov.uk