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Spain removes Ukrainian cooking oil from shelves

Spanish food agency has withdrawn Ukrainian sunflower oil from the market after it was found to contain hydrocarbons. The European Commission has alerted countries where oil was sold including France, Italy and Britain.

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Spain's food safety agency said Saturday it has ordered all sunflower oil to be withdrawn from sale after a batch from the Ukraine was found to be contaminated with hydrocarbons.

All sunflower oil is being withdrawn from sale "until we know the brands" which have been contaminated, probably on Monday, a spokesman for the agency, AESAN, told AFP.

AESAN issued a health warning on Friday after "aliphatic hyrdocarbons" were detected in a batch from the Ukraine.

However, Health Minister Bernat Soria said Saturday the concentrations of hydrocarbons in the oil were "so low that it presents no significant toxic risk".

The batch had already reached France, which had alerted the Spanish authorities, AESAN said.

The agency is now trying to trying to trace all of the affected batch of 125 tonnes, the spokesman said.

It warned consumers "not to use sunflower oil, as a precautionary measure," even if the risk is slight.

Rapeseed oil adulterated with aniline, a coal tar extract, that was sold in Spain in 1981 was blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people.

It was sold as olive oil in working-class neighbourhoods of Madrid and several other cities.
  

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