Thai FDA finds harmful levels of nitrite in sausages following blood disorder reports

Following reports of various children developing a blood disorder after eating sausages, the Thai FDA found that a number of sausages sold in Thailand contained harmful amounts of nitrite and benzoic acid. More than 20 manufacturers are now facing fines and penalties for using harmful amounts of the substances in sausages.

The investigation into sausage ingredients was prompted by the FDA after the Poison Centre of Ramathibodi Hospital found that 14 children across Thailand suffered from methemoglobinemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder, after eating sausages. High levels of nitrite can cause methemoglobinemia.

The children ate sausages in Chiang Mai, Phetchaburi, Saraburi, Trang, Phayao, Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Kanchanaburi.

The FDA took samples from 102 brands of sausages nationwide. Out of 44 samples tested so far from sausages collected, 22 were substandard. FDA deputy secretary-general Weerachai Nolwachai says the producers of the substandard sausages are now facing legal action.

“Twenty-two samples contained levels of the food preservative nitrite that exceeded the legal limit of 80 milligrams per kilogram. All were sold without an FDA approval stamp on the packaging and came from factories which are not FDA-registered as food manufacturers.”

Nitrite was used as a preservative in the sausages. The manufacturers who used harmful levels of nitrite face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to 20,000 baht. Reports do not say if the children’s families will seek compensation.

The public and street vendors are advised to check for the official FDA stamp on packaging as well as other information, like the manufacturer, manufacturing date, expiration date, and ingredients, Weerachai says.

“Avoid buying sausages that are too cheap or from unreliable stores.”

To teach the public about the safe use of nitrite, the FDA is holding a free online training session on its official Facebook page FDA THAI on March 22 from 9:30am to noon.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | MCOT

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