Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service

 

URGENT FURTHER WARNING ON HAZARD TO CHILDREN
(FROM MINI FRUIT GEL SWEETS)

 

The Food Standards Agency is today repeating its advice that children should not eat certain mini cup fruit jelly products that contain Konjac because of the risk of choking on the sweets. The products have been linked to a number of deaths from choking around the world.

This further warning comes following the death of a young child in February in the UK. The cause of death is not yet known and is subject to an inquest which has not yet been held. However, the fact that a minicup gel sweet may have been a factor in the death cannot be excluded at this stage.

Food Standards Agency Deputy Chair Suzi Leather said:

" The Food Standards Agency warned in December that these particular sweets present a risk to children. We said that they should be removed from sale immediately. Parents should be alert to the potential risk from these sweets and children should not buy or eat them.

" There may still be some of these sweets on sale and shops that have not heeded our warning should stop selling them now. Local authorities should also check again that they are not on sale locally and continue with that checking. "

These sweets have often been sold in many small corner shops and possibly stalls at street markets. In December local authorities were advised to visit shops and check that they were being taken off the shelves. Port authorities were also alerted. Last month, containers at Southampton Docks holding 57,000 Malaysian made Konnyaku jelly sweets were confiscated during a joint operation by Southampton Trading Standards and the Port Health Authority.

The sweets have a number of different brand names including:

The following are not necessarily brand names, but are probably manufacturers, since the brand names were not given in English.

Mong Lee Shang (China) Fruit Jelly
Jian Fu Trading Co. (Taiwan) Lichee Jelly

Pictures of some of the brands known by the Agency to have been on sale in the UK are available on the Agency website at www.food.gov.uk . Other brands may also have been on sale.

The jellies are contained in cups about the size of individual mini pots of milk or coffee creamer. They are dome-shaped with a diameter of about 3 cm tapering to 2 cm. They have a rounded edge and are sealed with a foil lid. The sweets are sold in various package sizes (eg bags, plastic jars) or individually. Some packets may be labelled with precautionary advice.

Children tend to suck out and effectively ‘inhale’ the sweet, which contains a soft, slippery type jelly and usually contain a hard, fruit flavoured gum at the centre. This increases the risk of choking. The jellies contain a particular ingredient, konjac, which does not dissolve easily and could stay stuck in the throat.

Notes to Editors

1) The Agency was alerted to this issue in August, at which point preliminary advice on the risk was issued. The Agency then assessed the extent of the risk, with advice, evidence and information from the Department of Health, DTI and other countries where action is being taken as well.

2) This action led to the Agency's warning to consumers in December and a Food Hazard Warning (FHW) to local authorities. Known importers, distributors and retailers were contacted directly by the FSA to inform them of the advice contained in the FHW and to advise them to withdraw the products from sale.

3) A further FHW has been issued today. The FHW can also be obtained from the Agency’s website at www.food.gov.uk

4) Further information and pictures can be obtained from the Agency website at

www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/bigimages/JellySweets.jpg
www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/bigimages/JellySweets2.jpg

www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/bigimages/JellySweets3.jpg

5) The action to remove these products from sale is undertaken by local authority Trading Standards officers, acting under the General Product Safety Regulations 1994, which allows for products to be removed from the market if they are deemed to be unsafe.

Further information on the General Product Safety Regulations 1994 can be obtained from the DTI website at https://www2.dti.gov.uk/access/safreg94/foreword.html   or from the DTI press office: Tel: 020 7215 5964