Fri, Sep 14, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Firm threatens protest in Germany

Staff writer, with CNA

A Taiwanese manufacturer of bubble tea drink ingredients said that franchise bubble tea store owners in Germany plan to protest next week in Berlin against media reports that the beverage might contain carcinogens.

Possmei Corp chairman Wang Chun-feng (王俊峰) said from his office in New Taipei City (新北市) that the ingredients he sells do not contain carcinogenic substances.

A statement issued by Possmei on Monday voiced discontent with German authorities, who Possmei said had failed to properly explain the situation to the public, and with the German media for running such unfavorable reports without mentioning any brand names or specifying testing procedures.

The firm was referring to a report by the Rheinischen Post on Aug. 22 that said a test conducted by RWTH Aachen University found that bubble tea contains carcinogens such as styrene, acetophenone and brominated substances.

The report said samples were collected from an unnamed franchise chain in Moenchengladbach and that the ingredients in the drink were imported from Taiwan.

A few other media outlets also ran similar reports. Teashop chain BoBoQ, which has more than 100 franchise stores in Germany, said the negative reports have affected its business.

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday said that the “bubbles” — tapioca balls — sold in Taiwan do not contain cancer-causing chemicals.

FDA official Feng Ren-lan (馮潤蘭) said the colorful bubbles in question in the German test are not commonly seen in Taiwan, although they are manufactured in the country and in Vietnam.

Feng said the German media did not specify the instruments and methods used in the test or the amount of carcinogenic substances found. The report said that brominated substances were found in the drinks, but ignored the fact that brominated matter can also be found in water, she said.

She said that food coloring additives, the containers in which the balls are packed, as well as other packaging materials, could also be the culprits.

Feng said the authenticity of the tests remained unclear because only snippets of information from private organizations and a university lab were cited in the media, while the results of official investigations by the German authorities had not yet been made available.

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