THE DAILY Echo has been praised by Southampton's environmental health bosses for helping to rid store shelves of food contaminated with the cancer-causing dye Sudan One.

On Saturday we revealed that scores of corner shops and newsagents could still be unwittingly stocking food containing the outlawed product which has been proven to cause cancer in mice.

Environmental health chiefs and trading standards officers launched a countywide awareness campaign in what was the biggest recall of food in UK history.

They warned that prosecution could follow if shopkeepers failed to act.

Southampton's food safety boss today praised the Daily Echo for playing its part in helping to alert independent traders to the fact that contaminated products could still be in stock.

Mitch Sanders, city council environmental health manager, said: "We found this week that there was a definite raised awareness. Probably about 98 per cent of premises knew about Sudan One. That was because they had either received a letter from us or had seen the Daily Echo and read the list of contaminated foods. The article really helped us to get the information out there."

Officers have now visited about 300 small premises around Southampton, warning them of the food scare and handing out a list of 200 contaminated products.

This week about half of traders had removed potentially-dangerous food from their shelves, compared to just a third last week.

Mr Sanders added that of the others, most were aware of Sudan One and had checked their stock but found nothing.

However, he still warned: "This has been a massive job for us. I hesitate to say that there are no Sudan One products left in Southampton because we have not actually been going in to check the stores themselves.

"If traders tell us they have found and destroyed something, we take their word for it."

The deadline for products to be recalled was 2pm on February 24. The mammoth campaign to raise awareness ended yesterday, but officers will still be carrying out spot checks on some premises.