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Oyster and soy sauce

During the last few years, there has been some talk about cancer-causing chemicals in liquid condiments – in particular, oyster and soy sauces. The manufacturing process for these products can cause the formation of 3-MCPD, a chemical that may cause cancer. From published reports, we have learned the following:

  • 3-MCPD has been found mainly in a number of oyster and soy sauces sold in Canada and other countries. The levels of 3-MCPD are different from product to product, ranging from very low levels to very high levels.
  • 3-MCPD is part of the chloropropanol group of chemicals and is a possible carcinogen in humans.
  • Health Canada has concluded that there is no health risk to Canadians from use of available soy and oyster sauces. Because continuous lifetime exposure to high levels of 3-MCPD could pose a health risk, Health Canada has established 1.0 part per million (ppm) as a guideline for importers of these sauces, in order to reduce Canadian's long-term exposure to this chemical. This is considered to be a very safe level.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has advised importers and manufacturers that the level of 3-MCPD in these products must be below 1.0 ppm. CFIA has been watching the level of 3-MCPD in these products, and it announces health hazard alerts when the level exceeds this guideline.

To find these health alerts, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

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