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167 food ingredient suppliers affected by toxic contamination: DOH

2011/05/26 19:04:04

Taipei, May 26 (CNA) A total of 167 food ingredient suppliersface recalls due to the snowballing toxic contamination in connectionwith an emulsifying additive called cloudy agent, the Department ofHealth (DOH) said Thursday.

So far, the cancer-causing plasticizer DEHP has been detected inthe products of 47 local manufacturers of food and drinks thatunknowingly used the tainted ingredient, all of which have to berecalled, according to Hsu Ming-neng, deputy director-general of theDOH's Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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

Taiwan is gripped in a food scare after the DOH confirmed onMonday that DEHP had been found in cloudy agent, which is commonlyused in fruit jelly, yogurt mix powder, juices and other drinks tokeep emulsions well dispersed.

Investigations show that the tainted cloudy agent products wereeither produced by Yu Sheng Chemical Co., or based fromintermediaries supplied by the company.

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

Hsu said the FDA should be able to track most of the contaminateditems within the next couple of days, when the DOH will again writeto the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) underthe World Health Organization to report the details.

Hsu said he orally informed INFOSAN officials of the incidentwhile attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva earlier thisweek. The DOH later also wrote to INFOSAN via e-mail to providefurther information, but the group has not yet responded, he said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Sugar Co. announced Thursday that it isrecalling its "Turmeric Oyster Shell" supplement tablets over DEHPcontamination.

The company also said it was sending four other products fortests to determine if they are tainted.

Another victim, HeySong Corp., said it has asked all itsdistributors to recall its "FruitHouse" probiotic powder and threeother brands of dietary supplements that might have beencontaminated.

Consumers who have bought the products will get refundsunconditionally, the company said.

Meanwhile, food ingredient exporter Possmei Corp. said it hasnotified its clients in more than 20 countries to stop selling itsconcentrated juice products to await test results.

According to Possmei President Yang Hsi-shun, the company willfurther inform its clients if the products are safe as soon as theresults are available.

Passion fruit juice, mango juice and lychee juice produced byPossmei were on the DEHP contamination-related recall list announcedby the New Taipei City Health Bureau on Wednesday.

The company also supplies bubble milk tea ingredients. Among itsmost well-known oversea clients is Bubbleology tea house in London,which has also expressed concern over the DEHP contamination inTaiwan.

Yang, however, said that cloudy agent is usually not added whenmaking tapioca balls -- a main ingredient of bubble milk tea --making contamination unlikely.

Giant Union Co., a supplier of oriental foods and commodities inLos Angeles, said Wednesday that it has stopped importing "poppingboba, " a translucent gummy ball from Possmei that contains flavoredjuices and can be added to drinks.

(By Chen Ching-fang, Sunrise Huang, Chao Hsiao-hui, Chang Jung-hsing,
Huang Kuo-fang, Oscar Wu and Y.F. Low)