The government will soon begin its second phase of actions against plasticizers in food products after having screened almost every relevant retailer and wholesaler amid the largest food contamination scare that has ever hit the country.
The Department of Health (DOH) is scheduled to convene a food safety meeting within the next two weeks to discuss a proposal to expand the existing food traceability system to cover food additives, said Tsai Shu-chen (蔡淑貞), head of the food division of the Food and Drug Administration.
The department will also conduct more research on plasticizers to determine how plastic bags and containers, as well as plasticizers that exist in the environment, taint the foods that people consume, she added.
With the study, the department will determine the maximum allowable plasticizer intake per person per day based on standards adopted by European countries, the US and Japan for public reference, Tsai said.
Addressing the government’s plasticizer roundup, the -department official said that in their first phase of action, investigators in all 22 cities and counties in the country inspected more than 16,000 retailers and wholesalers as of noon yesterday.
“Not only stores with business licenses, but also traditional grocery stores, breakfast shops and food stands in traditional markets have been screened,” she said.
So far, more than 20,000 items have been taken off shelves because they lacked a food safety certificate, she added.
Late last month, di(2--ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, and diisononyl phthalate, or DINP, were found to have been added to clouding agents produced by Yu Shen Chemical Co and Pin Han Perfumery Co.
Starting on May 31, local retailers have been forbidden from selling five categories of food and beverages — sports drinks, juices, tea drinks, fruit jams or syrups, and dietary tablets or powders — unless those products have been certified free of six plasticizers — DEHP, DINP, di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP) diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP).
As the food scare grips the nation, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last night presided over a meeting at the Presidential Office, where he received briefings from government agencies on the latest news on the matter.