Organic food suppliers said yesterday that the ongoing plasticizers-in-food scare has brought more customers into their stores and boosted sales.
Organic stores, including vegetable shops and restaurants, say they are now catering to more customers since the outbreak of the food safety scare last month.
The snowballing issue started when local food ingredient suppliers Yu Shen Chemical Co (昱伸) and Pin Han Perfumery Co (賓漢) were found to be adding plasticizers to clouding agents, a legal food additive commonly used in sports drinks, fruit jelly, jam, yogurt mix powder and dietary supplements.
To date, more than 100 food manufacturers that were supplied by the two firms have been found to have been using tainted clouding agents in their products, causing panic about the health risks of consuming food containing artificial or chemical substances.
Stores offering organic and natural foods, however, seem to have been benefiting from this.
“Although there has been a slight drop in purchases of health supplements, because some of them have been found to contain contaminated clouding agents, all in all there has been an increase in the sale of general products such as natural juices and vegetables,” said Gary Hsieh (謝建豐), chief executive of Santa Cruz Organic Food (聖德科斯天然有機食品), an organic chainstore with 85 outlets nationwide.
Although Hsieh declined to provide turnover figures, he said the increase in customer numbers is related to rising awareness of the importance of eating healthy foods.
“Customers now choose to buy juices that settle now that they are aware that a well-mixed texture often indicates the use of chemicals in the product,” he said.