The Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday that protein powder imported from China was found to contain 1.90 parts per million (ppm) to 5.03ppm of melamine.
Health authorities randomly tested 13 batches of protein powder, six of which were contaminated with melamine.
The tainted powder was produced by two companies in China — Jilin Jinyi Egg Products Co Ltd (吉林金翼蛋品有限公司) and Dalian Green Snow Egg Product Co, Ltd (大連綠雪蛋品發展有限公司).
Of the 393 tonnes of protein powder imported from China this year, 261 tonnes imported from Jilin Jinyi and Dalian Green Snow were found to be contaminated with melamine, deputy health minister Cheng Shou-hsia (鄭守夏) said at a press conference yesterday.
Protein powder is used in the food industry as a legal food additive.
It is commonly used to produce foam and add cohesiveness.
The department’s Bureau of Food and Drug Safety on Sunday randomly tested 40 samples of ham, vegetarian ham, fish paste and cakes, which are all products commonly made with protein powder. No melamine was detected in these finished products, Cheng said.
The 261 tonnes of tainted powder were imported by Kuohui (國暉食品香料化工有限公司), Paoli (寶立興業股份有限公司), Union Chemical Industrial Co Ltd (六和化工股份有限公司) and Ali-Mon Co (育盟股份有限公司).
Union Chemical imported malt extract and creamer found to contain melamine last month.
The four local companies have warehouses in Taipei, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Taoyuan counties.
Local health departments have already begun tracking down and recalling the powder, Cheng said.
Cheng emphasized that the department used one of the most sensitive testing methods — liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry — which can detect melamine levels as low as 0.05ppm.
Cheng said that the department is requiring all companies that have imported protein powder from China, whether or not they have been found to contain melamine, to take the materials off the market.
The department also announced a ban on all imports of protein powder materials from China.
Taiwan imports about 704 tonnes of protein powder a year from countries including Germany, France, Sweden and Japan, so Taiwanese businesses can replace the China-made protein powder with supplies from elsewhere, Cheng said.
Contaminated milk powder, laced with the chemical melamine, has been blamed for causing the deaths of four infants and sickening more than 54,000 others in China.
Melamine is added to milk powder by some companies in China to falsely register foods as having a high protein content.