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Learning English - Words in the News
29 October, 2004 - Published 12:24 GMT
Hungary paprika ban

The Hungarian government have banned the sale of paprika - a key ingredient in the country's famous national dish, goulash - after a poisonous substance was discovered in warehouse stocks. The government are blaming the ban on cheap imports from the tropics. This report from Bill Hayton:

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Paprika is Hungary's national spice. More than forty different varieties are grown and its bright red colour and sweet hot taste liven up much of the country's cuisine - from firey ghoulash stew to red spicy sausages. So the ban, which covers not just paprika but food products containing it, could make life in Hungary much more bland. Many restaurants only keep a week's supply and if the ban is maintained chefs will have to find other recipes for their customers.

The ban was imposed after several samples were found to be contaminated with aflatoxin - a poisonous substance produced by a fungus. Some contained more than ten times the legal limit. The health minister Jeno Racz said aflatoxin doesn't survive in the Hungarian climate. He accused some food producers of illegally mixing home-grown and imported stocks of the spice.

He imposed a ban on all sales - except for stocks with an expiry date after next April. But he said the contamination was unlikely to affect the health of consumers unless they ate more than half a kilogramme of paprika a week. Hungarians eat a lot of paprika but it would take them about a year to get through that much.

Bill Hayton, BBC

Listen to the words

types, sorts

liven up
make tastier

a week's supply
if you have a week’s supply of something, it will last you a week


the legal limit
as much as allowed by law

imposed a ban on
stopped, forbade

supply of something

expiry date
when something is no longer good

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