The EU has confirmed that Taiwanese food products contaminated by industrial plasticizers have been shipped to Europe.
So far, one batch of problematic products has entered Germany, while three shipments have reached Britain, Frederic Vincent, spokesman for the European Commission on Health and Consumer Policy, told reporters over the weekend.
However, the problem in Europe is no worse than in Canada, the US, China or Malaysia — Taiwan’s major export markets — Vincent said.
The EU health and policy commission, headed by European Commissioner John Dalli, is taking steps to monitor the tainted products and prevent them from reaching the wider market, Vincent said.
The commission will pay particular attention to those products listed by Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as containing plasticizers, he said.
The FDA on June 1 identified 506 food products from 215 companies that were found to contain plasticizers that are usually used for industrial purposes, mainly to make plastics more flexible and durable.
The contamination issue came to light last month when an FDA inspector uncovered an illegal cost-cutting practice at two companies that were using di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEPH, and other plasticizers to make clouding agents — additives that make foods and beverages look more appealing to consumers.
Vincent said that usually, plasticizers detected in food products exported to Europe come from the plastic packaging, adding that Europe regulates allowable levels of such chemical substances in food.
However, the food contamination incident in Taiwan is different in that it involves the deliberate use of plasticizers as food additives, he said.
Following the discovery of plasticizer contamination of a wide range of processed foods, beverages and diet supplements in Taiwan, the government ordered a full recall of problematic products and mandatory safety certification for all food and drink sold in stores.