Bubble tea ingredient provider threatens protest in Germany

09/11/2012 10:35 PM
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Taipei, Sept. 11 (CNA) A Taiwanese manufacturer of bubble tea drink ingredients said Tuesday that franchise bubble tea store owners in Germany plan to protest next week in Berlin against media reports that the beverage might contain carcinogens.

Wang Chun-feng, chairman of the Possmei Corp., told a press conference from his company offices in New Taipei that the ingredients he sells do not contain carcinogenic substances.

A statement issued by Possmei a day earlier voiced discontent with the German authorities, who Possmei said had yet to explain the situation to the public or why the German media had run such unfavorable reports without mentioning any brand names or specifying test details.

It was referring to a report by the Rheinischen Post Aug. 22 that said a test conducted by RWTH Aachen University found that bubble tea contains carcinogens such as styrene, acetophenone and brominated substances.

The report said samples were collected from an unnamed franchise chain in Moenchengladbach and that the ingredients in the drink were imported from Taiwan.

A few other media outlets also ran similar reports. Teashop chain BoBoQ, which has more than 100 franchise stores in Germany, said the negative reports have caused losses to their businesses.

Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, said Monday that the bubbles -- tapioca balls -- sold in Taiwan do not contain cancer-causing chemicals such as brominated substances.

Feng Jun-lan, an official with the FDA, said the colorful bubbles in question in the German test are not commonly seen in Taiwan and are manufactured in both Taiwan and Vietnam.

Feng said the German media did not specify the instruments and methods used in the test or the amounts of carcinogenic substances found. The report said that brominated substances were found in the drinks, but ignored the fact that brominated matter can also be found in plain water, she said.

She said that food coloring additives, the containers in which the balls are packed, as well as other packaging materials, could also be the culprits.

Feng said the authenticity of the tests remained unclear because only snippets of information from private organizations and a university lab were cited in the media, while the official investigation results by the German authorities had not yet been made available.

(By Wang Hung-kuo, Chen Ching-fang and Jamie Wang) ENDITEM/J

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