Tainted Food Scare Sparks Mass Recalls

A massive recall of food and drinks is underway in Taiwan because a carcinogenic plasticizer has been detected. From Taipei Times:

So far, the plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) has been detected in the products of 47 local manufacturers of food and drinks that unknowingly used the tainted ingredient, all of which have to be recalled, said Hsu Ming-neng (許銘能), deputy director–general of the department’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Hsu urged other manufacturers to send their products for tests to prove that they are free of the harmful chemical.

Taiwan is gripped in a food scare after the department confirmed on Monday that DEHP had been found in an emulsifier that is commonly used in fruit jelly, yogurt mix powder, juices and other drinks.

Investigations show that the tainted emulsifier products were either produced by Yu Shen Chemical Co (昱伸香料有限公司) or came from intermediaries supplied by the company.

Some of the tainted ingredients and products were believed to have been exported overseas.

After news of the DEHP contamination, Taiwanese officials have also discovered that another illegal additive, DINP, may also have been used, prompting an even wider food recall. From Focus Taiwan:

More products have been seized by the health authorities after it was found that another upstream food additive manufacturer has been using banned plasticizer in a common food additive called cloudy agent, the Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday.

The DOH said Pin Han Perfumery Co., located in the Tucheng district of New Taipei City, was found to have illegally used DINP in its cloudy agent.

Cloudy agent is used to create opacity in foodstuffs and beverages to make them more appealing to consumers.

As the result of the latest finding, the DOH has seized a sports drink and asparagus juice made by two companies in central and southern Taiwan, as well as the products of a cooking oil company in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan.

In light of this incident, the Taiwanese government has vowed to impose stricter standards of food safety and inspection. From Bloomberg:

Taiwan will tighten food-safety inspections after an emulsifying additive was found to be contaminated with an industrial plasticizer, ordering some companies to certify their products before sale.

The Department of Health has ordered a recall of tainted food, according to a website statement. Manufacturers of five major food groups — including sports drinks, juices and teas — need to provide proof that their products are free from the chemical before they can be sold, it said.

The plasticizer, known as DEHP, was found in the additive, the Food and Drug Administration at the Health Department said. The chemical is harmful and is banned from food products. The additive is used in fruit jelly, yoghurt drinks, juices and food supplements, the administration said.

Some food makers have unknowingly used the contaminated emulsifier made by Yu Shen Co., the statement said. Hey Song Corp. (1234) is among companies whose products contained DEHP, according to the administration. The government has investigated 186 companies and 371 products may have been tainted.

May 30, 2011 1:43 PM
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Categories: Taiwan