Taipei, June 18 (CNA) Some ingredients used to make zongzi -- a glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves -- were found to contain high levels of harmful additives and have been banned from sale in Taipei, the city government said Monday.
Six of the 100 randomly selected items tested below standard, according to a report released by the city's Department of Health.
The ingredients were five samples of radish and one pickled mustard tuber, which all contained excessive levels of parabens, a type of preservative, the report said.
The health department tested 25 zongzi, 10 bamboo leaf wrappings, 45 stuffing ingredients, 15 samples of sticky rice and purple rice and five types of seasonings.
The tests were carried out on products sold in traditional markets, zongzi stores and by manufacturers of ingredients for zongzi, which are traditionally eaten around the time of the Dragon Boat Festival.
With the approach of the festival on June 23, the products were checked for additives, preservatives, bleaching agents, coloring agents, pesticide residues and aflatoxin.
The health department said it has asked the sellers to remove the sub-standard products from their shelves.
The public is reminded that ingestion of high levels of parabens can cause stomachache, nausea and vomiting, the department said.
It also advised washing or soaking food in hot water before cooking in order to get rid of preservatives.
Meanwhile, the department also carried out tests on samples of meat sold at traditional markets, supermarkets and wholesale markets.
As a part its food safety efforts, it checked 20 chicken samples, six pork, seven mutton, four duck, seven beef and three goose products.
Only one pork product, supplied by a slaughterhouse in New Taipei, failed to meet safety standards as it contained excessive levels of the drug sulfonamide, the report showed.
Chen Li-chi, head of the department's Food and Drug Division, said sulfonamide is an antimicrobial drug that can affect humans' renal function and cause abdominal discomfort.
(By Huang Li-yun, Liu Chien-pang and Nell Shen)