Tue, Jan 17, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Taipei City sweeps out unhealthy festive items

By Jenny Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

With people stocking up on food for Lunar New Year, officials at Taipei City Government's Department of Health yesterday announced that just over 11 percent of 160 New Year food products failed health tests.

The 18 products that failed tests included fruit preserves, dried seafood, candies and jellies, cooked pulses and preserved vegetables.

There were also problems with labeling and additives. Four contained too many additives, while the labeling of nine products did not meet requirements.

Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美), head of the department's Food and Drug Division, said: "The most serious problems were with fruit preserves, where 23.68 percent did not meet regulations."

Excessive saccharine was found in some of the fruit preserves, while in others saccharine content wasn't labeled.

"Too much saccharine can interfere with liver metabolism and kidney functions. For those who have kidney and liver conditions, the presence of saccharine can pose an immediate threat. Symptoms include feeling nauseous or getting sick," Chiang said.

Of the other products tested that didn't meet regulations, problems were mostly to do with excessive bleach and preservatives and labeling problems.

"By soaking dried seafood products in water twice in a row you can get rid of 70 to 90 percent of the bleach," Chiang said.

Of the 18 offending products, 15 were from businesses outside of Taipei City, while three were within city limits. Businesses in Taipei City are subject to a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 for violating health regulations.

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