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Leaf linked to UK salmonella outbreak may face export ban

Indian betel linked to Birmingham hospital's food poisoning case could get an EU ban akin to that for Alphonso mangoes

Leaf linked to UK salmonella outbreak may face export ban

Betel leaves/paan could face a ban similar to that imposed on Alphonso mangoes

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Another item of fresh produce from India is on the verge of being hit by an export ban.

Betel leaves exported from India have been linked to an outbreak of food poisoning at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital, and there have been warnings from the EU that a ban similar to the one imposed on Indian Alphonso mangoes could follow, according to reports on the CNBC news channel in India.

The EU announced last week that Indian betel leaves (often known as 'paan', and used for a stimulating and psychoactive preparation combined with areca nut and/or cured tobacco) have been testing positive for Salmonella, and these are now being linked to the outbreak in the Midlands. The EU case is that the leaves themselves have not been treated properly, CNBC reported.

Uday Dholakia, chairman of the National Asian Business Association, told CNBC: "Talking to a lot of the officers, one of the areas they're looking at are the imported vegetables from India, and paan is one of them.”

Jon Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, said: "The UK government has supported the banning of Alphonso mangoes from India. Now it sounds like they are going to be supporting the banning of paan coming in from India. I think lots of people in Leicester enjoy both the mangoes and the paan.

"I think regulators need to work closely with the business community and exporters in India to sort these problems out quickly because I don't want to see more Leicester businesses and more UK businesses hit by another ban.”

Warnings of a new ban come following extensive diplomatic efforts to end the mango ban.

Ranjan Mathai, Indian High Commissioner in Britain, told CNBC: “When the ban was initially put in place by an order at the end of March, we were told that this would be effective till the end of 2015. What we have been able to do is to have an agreement that the Food and Veterinary Organisation conduct another inspection another survey a little wider this time of many food products and not just mangoes and they would be examining this.

"That would be brought up to September this year, which provides us the opportunity to have this matter reviewed.”

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