BUDAPEST, Hungary – Hungary banned the sale of its signature spice, paprika, yesterday and told people not to use whatever supplies they had at home after more than a pinch of moldy toxin was found in products sold by three companies.
Health officials found that products distributed by three of the country’s largest paprika companies contained more aflatoxin than permitted by law. Aflatoxin can damage the human liver and the immune system and may cause cancer. Aflatoxin could be dangerous to people, Racz said. The average Hungarian consumes about that much in a year. The CDC has yet to determine what an “acceptable” level of aflatoxin intake is considered dangerous, or even healthy.
Paprika is a key ingredient in most Hungarian meat dishes. Health Ministry officials suspect distributors mixed South American paprika with Hungarian paprika and sold it as Hungarian. They said Hungarian producers bought paprika from abroad because last year’s crop was small.
Hungary exports 5,500 tons of paprika a year, but it was unclear whether any of the affected paprika was sent abroad.