The Unsettling Reason Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Is Being Recalled Across The Globe

Unless you are in the medical profession, chances are you'd have never heard of ethylene oxide or EtO, a chemical currently being used in the United States to sterilize medical equipment. The chemical is described by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an "antimicrobial pesticide" that undergoes a review every 15 years to ensure it can be used without being the cause of harm to any people handling it, or to the environment in which it is being used. EtO is currently under review, especially because a November 2020 assessment has revealed that inhaling the substance over an extended period of time could cause cancer.

EtO isn't just used for sterilizing medical gear, it is used to fumigate herbs and spices too. As the Journal of Food Science points out, the risk of contracting a bacterial infection from these spices is high if the ingredient is not treated properly. And therein lies the problem.

While EtO is still being used in the United States, and it is cleared for use in India per organic-market.Info, certain regions and territories around the world have listed it as a substance that cannot be used in food products. And the presence of an EtO compound known as 2-Chloroethanol has been found in Häagen-Dazs products, forcing the recall of tens of thousands of pounds worth of ice cream in different parts of the world (per Focus Taiwan).

Häagen-Dazs is seeing a global recall of its products over the banned compound

Recalls have been happening since July and have resulted in the disappearance of certain Häagen-Dazs products around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as in specific countries in the European Union including Belgium, Spain, and France, as well as Ireland. In certain countries, the ice cream was recalled voluntarily by General Mills itself as it was in France, per Connexion France.

General Mills has since told the European Union that the presence of the EtO compound "is linked to a single supplier and is limited to certain expiration dates ... The problem is due to an ingredient (vanilla flavor) supplied by one of our main suppliers," per EuroWeekly News. General Mills didn't say where the vanilla came from, but the products involved include tubs, mini tubs, multi-pack bonbons, and individual bonbons with specific expiration dates, as well as different flavors.

Given that the recall has involved tens of thousands of pounds worth of ice cream in Taiwan alone per Focus Taiwan, we can only imagine how much Häagen-Dazs and General Mills are likely to lose in both income and inventory when all is said and done.