Fri, Oct 08, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Noodles found to violate food safety regulations

DANGEROUS DOUGH:The Consumers’ Foundation has reported stores selling the products to the Department of Health and urged health officials to step up inspections

BY SHELLEY HUANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday revealed the results of its latest inspection of noodles and noodle-related products, and found that several contained antiseptics and preservatives at amounts exceeding legal limits.

In July and August, the consumer rights watchdog purchased 60 types of uncooked noodles, Chinese pita (餅皮), dumpling dough, wonton dough and noodle sausages (麵腸) from traditional food stalls, specialty noodle shops, supermarkets and retail chains nationwide to conduct sample testing.

The tests showed that three out of the seven types of noodle sausage and one type of udon noodle tested contained peroxide, which is used as a type of antiseptic, but is not allowed in foodstuffs because it harms the gastrointestinal system and can even heighten the risk of cancer, said Yu Kai-hsiung (游開雄), publisher of Consumer magazine.

The type of food that had the highest rate of violations during testing was wonton dough, as seven out of eight types tested, or 87.5 percent, contained benzoic acid, Yu said.

While foods are allowed a small amount of the preservative substance — 60 milligrams per kilogram — two types of wonton dough were found to contain more than 5,000 milligrams per kilogram, more than 80 times the maximum legal limit.

The foundation said the wonton dough in violation of food safety regulations was mostly purchased from traditional food market stalls in Kaohsiung.

Benzoic acid, which is used to preserve foods, is naturally excreted by the body through the normal metabolic processes if a small amount is consumed, but larger amounts of the substance can harm the digestive system and induce stomach aches, diarrhea and other symptoms, Yu said.

One type of Chinese pita inspected by the foundation was also found to contain illegally high amounts of sorbic acid, which is also used as a form of preservative and can induce symptoms similar to benzoic acid if a larger than recommended amount is consumed.

The foundation reported the food stalls and stores in violation of food safety regulations to the Department of Health and urged health officials to step up inspections to ensure the safety of consumers.

The foundation also advised the public against buying noodles and dough products that appear too white or bleached and to purchase products from outlets with a good reputation.

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