Thu, Nov 10, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Taipei's health officials warn of hot-pot hazard


Preservatives and additives found in hot-pot ingredients may be hazardous to your health, the Food and Drug Division of the Taipei City Department of Health announced yesterday.

The division recently conducted inspections on hot-pot ingredients such as tofu, meatballs and various dumplings, testing 37 different products gathered from traditional markets, supermarkets and hypermarts.

Out of 37 products tested, 21 were found to have preservatives and 24 contained both preservatives and artificial colorings.

According to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Li Ken Kuei-Fong (厲耿桂芳), the results indicated that hot pot ingredients from traditional markets were found to be safer for consumers than those found at supermarkets and hypermarts.

Most supermarket and hypermart hot-pot ingredients are sold unpackaged and at room temperatures higher than the 7?C stipulated for refrigerated items, said Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美), chief of the division.

All hot-pot tofu samples gathered were found to contain preservatives and artificial food coloring.

Although none of the ingredients inspected contained the preservative benzoic acid in levels higher than the regulated 1g per kilogram, the preservatives could still hurt the consumer in the long run, Li Ken said.

Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏), vice chairman of the Consumers' Foundation, said that according to World Health Organization regulations, a 50kg person cannot consume more than 0.25g of benzoic acid per day.

To avoid buying or consuming hazardous hot-pot ingredients, Cheng said that consumers must pay attention to the brand name, as well as the packaging and the label's indications.

In addition, ingredients should not be oozing water or giving off pungent smells, Cheng said.

Neither should they be sticky or brightly colored, he added.

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