Tesco has been forced to recall some of its own brand sausage meals after it was found that that they contain an allergen that is not announced on the label.
The meals contain sulphur dioxide, a preservative used in a wide range of foods, including sausages and burgers. Although safe for the majority of people to consume, sulphites can trigger asthma and symptoms of anaphylactic shock - such as hives, dizziness, diarrhoea and difficulty swallowing - in sulphite-sensitive people.
Food labelling rules require pre-packed food sold in the UK, and the rest of the European Union, to show clearly on the label if it contains sulphur dioxide or sulphites at levels above 10mg per kg or per litre.
A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency said: "Tesco has recalled some of its own-brand Prepared Sausage Meals because they contain sulphur dioxide, which is not mentioned on the label. This means the products could be a possible health risk for people who are sensitive to sulphites. Customers who are sensitive to sulphur dioxide are advised not to consume this product and to return it to any Tesco store for a full refund."
Tesco has removed the affected products from sale and has contacted the relevant allergy support organisations, which will inform their at-risk members of the recall. Notices are being displayed in all stores to alert consumers to the reasons for the recall and the actions they can take if they have purchased the product.
The products recalled are:
* Tesco Classic Bangers and Mash, 500g - Use by: all dates up to and including 1 November 2008
* Tesco Classic Lincolnshire Sausage with Cheddar & Bacon Bubble Squeak, 450g - Use by: all dates up to and including 1 November 2008
* Tesco Finest Classics 3 Cumberland Sausages with Fresh Mash, 500g - Use by: all dates up to and including 1 November 2008.