The Taipei City Government yesterday destroyed 42,871 packages of food products containing maleic anhydride-modified industrial starch at the Muzha Refuse Incineration Plant amid ongoing inspections of food items containing the banned starch.
The products, which weighed a total of 9,880kg, included tapioca pearls and sweet potato tapioca pearls made by Sunlight Foods Corp, a major food ingredient producer which offers a wide variety of tapioca pearls, baking powders and cake flours.
Taipei City’s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health supervised the incineration.
According to department section head Tsai Tsung-chu (蔡崇助), the plant burned the items at 950oC, and the waste gases were passed through systems to prevent air pollution.
Sunlight Foods vice manager Zoe Lee (李采慧) said the company has suffered losses of NT$1.3 million (US$43,386) since the banned industrial starch was found in various food items last month.
The company is cooperating with the authorities to destroy food products containing the banned starch, and is working on recalls and refunds for affected products.
“We plan to enhance quality control for our food products to ensure food safety,” she said.
Starting today, any vendor or food company that sells a food product containing the banned starch could face a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 for violating the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法).
Department of Health Commissioner Lin Chi-hung (林奇宏) said that more than 90 percent of food vendors and shops have been provided certifications that show that their products are free of maleic industrial starch, and the department will launch a new round of inspections today, fining any vendors still selling affected products.
As more food items are found to contain the banned starch, Lin said, the department will cooperate with the central government to compile a comprehensive list of food items that could contain starch and include them in its inspections.