Maricopa County health officials warn of meat containing cement colorant

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PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Environmental Services and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health are warning Phoenix residents about an unapproved food coloring agent that was added to raw pork and beef products.

The additive, Cemix, contains two forms of iron oxide and is used to color concrete.

MCES traced the additive to a local distributor and learned that other carnicerías and meat markets were also using the coloring agent.

“Our department’s inspectors are working on removing products with this coloring agent from retailers, and consumers should know that if they bought these products from any of the identified locations, they should stop using them,” said John Kolman, director of the Maricopa County Environmental Services department, in a news release. “We sent inspectors to survey more locations and try to isolate products with this unapproved food additive,” Kolman added.

So far chorizo and marinated meat containing Cemix have been found at Carnicería el Camino and two Phoenix Farms Supermercado locations.

Because MCES has not yet determined the extent of the distribution of Cemix, there could be meat products containing it at other stores.

Iron oxide, which is what is in Cemix, has health effects similar to those of iron supplements and prenatal vitamins, including abdominal discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea. While the effects can be uncomfortable, they generally are not dangerous.

“If it has been more than six hours and you feel fine, there’s very little risk of any health effects at all,” said Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health in a news release. “But [Cemix] wasn’t intended for human consumption, not manufactured in a manner that would be considered appropriate for food production, so it is only prudent to not eat this stuff.”

Experts say if you do experience adverse symptoms after eating meat from Carnicería el Camino or Phoenix Farms Supermercado , they should pass on their own. You might want to contact your doctor or you may also call the Maricopa County Public Health Information Line at 602-747-7500 for assistance.

If you have questions about any products you might have purchased, you need to contact the store.

For further information, you may contact Maricopa County Environmental Services at 6020506-6616.

Carnicería el Camino
3205 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix
602-278-8016

Phoenix Farms Supermercado
3353 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix
602-241-6292

1928 W. Buckeye Rd., Phoenix
602-254-6382