A COMPANY implicated in Britain's biggest food product recall paid out compensation after a similar alert two years ago.
East Anglian Food Ingredients supplied chilli powder inadvertently contaminated with a dye which led to the recall of more than 420 products since last week.
But it has now emerged the Essex company was involved in another recall involving the dye, Sudan 1, in 2003.
Accounts show the firm paid customers £361,705 in compensation and costs after a single consignment of chilli powder was found to contain the potentially cancer-causing additive.
The powder was used as an ingredient in around 250 products which subsequently had to be recalled after it was identified by the Food Standards Agency.
Worried parents who give their children foods that may have been affected by the Sudan 1 scare have been given some simple advice by experts - feed them on freshly prepared food instead.
The cost of the scare will run into millions of pounds, according to industry experts.
Lawrence Hutter, a partner in the consumer business arm of advisory firm Deloitte, said the cost of the bill for the recall would top £100m.
He said, "This type of scare damages consumers' perceptions of the food they are being sold."
The Food Standards Agency was forced to revise the number of products caught up in the cancer dye alert last night.
The watchdog has confirmed 420 products as being contaminated by the dye - nine fewer than previously stated.
Errors have crept in as a result of discussions between officials from the agency and food companies about which products are involved in the recall, the biggest of its kind in British history.
A spokesman for Essex County Council Trading Standards, which was aware of the recall, said, "The company took prompt action and acted within the guidelines recommended."
The latest recall involved a five-tonne shipment of chilli powder imported from India and subsequently supplied to Premier Foods, which makes Crosse and Blackwell Worcester Sauce.
The FSA said another company - Unbar Rothon in Billericay, Essex - also handled the powder.
Tests conducted in Italy earlier this year found the Worcester Sauce contained a small amount of Sudan 1 - a dye used to colour solvents, oils, waxes, petrol and shoe and floor polish. It is illegal to add it to food products.
By then the same consignment of sauce had been used as an ingredient in hundreds of food products, ranging from ready-made meals and crisps to seasonings and dressings.
Food campaigners have warned the increase in processed foods is to blame in part for the rise of food scares such as BSE.
Hilda Smith of the Welsh Food Alliance, a campaign which raises awareness of healthy eating, especially among schoolchildren, said, "My advice is to eat good wholesome food.
"We are eating more processed foods and one lot of chilli powder can affect an enormous amount of foods because it is a common flavouring. People should eat wholesome food, and you should cook it yourself so you are aware of what you are eating."
Jacqui Lowdon, a paediatric dietician at the University Hospital of Wales, said the Sudan 1 scare emphasises the importance of freshly prepared food.
"Hopefully, the present scare will get people to sit up and think about the food they are eating and how much they are having to chuck out of their freezers and cupboards.
"The most frightening thing about this is that this is one ingredient in many products. Who knows what else we are eating and what they might find."