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Taiwan rejects U.S. condiments due to presence of carcinogen

06/11/2024 06:35 PM
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The intercepted A-1 Steak Sauce. Photo courtesy of TFDA June 11, 2024
The intercepted A-1 Steak Sauce. Photo courtesy of TFDA June 11, 2024

Taipei, June 11 (CNA) Three shipments of seasonings imported from the United States have been returned or destroyed after they were discovered to contain ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing chemical banned in Taiwan, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) said Tuesday.

The imports were intercepted after sample testing conducted in late April and May detected the presence of the chemical, according to the TFDA.

The problematic products were Briannas French Vinaigrette Dressing and Briannas Smoked Chipotle Marinade, both imported by Hao Shi International Co., along with A-1 Steak Sauce imported by Zhan Ying Trading Co.

FDA Deputy Director-General Lin Chin-fu (林金富) told CNA that eight of the 409 shipments of seasoning products imported from the U.S. between Dec. 3 last year and June 3 did not meet Taiwan's food safety standards and were seized.

Lin said that products imported by the two companies will now be subject to batch-by-batch inspections. Furthermore, the inspection rate of seasoning products from the U.S. was increased on Jan. 8 and will last until July 7.

Ethylene oxide has been classified as carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, according to Yen Tzung-hai (顏宗海), a toxicologist at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

Currently, only a few countries, including the U.S. and Canada, permit the use of ethylene oxide in spices and sesame for sterilization purposes, Yen said, adding that long-term exposure to the substance may increase the risk of some types of cancer and can damage the central and peripheral nervous systems.

The three condiments from the U.S. were among 15 items that recently failed customs inspections, the TFDA said in its weekly report on border seizures.

A batch of Hathi cumin powder imported from India was found to contain residue from 20 types of pesticide, which violates Taiwan's regulations, Lin said.

Products with the same manufacturing lot number from the same origin will be subject to batch-by-batch inspections, according to Lin.

(By Shen Pei-yao and Evelyn Kao)

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