The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said it was tracing the flow of copper chlorophyllin purchased by three importers and sodium copper chlorophyllin from four importers to make sure that they are used appropriately.
Food flavor supplier L. Seatex Co and food ingredient suppliers Toong Yeuan Enterprise Co and Taiwan Bifido Co have imported various amounts of copper chlorophyllin since 2011, said Feng Jun-lan (馮潤蘭), director of the agency’s Northern Center for Regional Administration.
Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co, which allegedly added copper chlorophyllin to its olive oil, obtained the substance from Bifido, while Formosa Oilseed Processing Co’s was from L. Seatex, Feng said.
L. Seatex also sold the additive to New Taipei City-based Pei Chin Co, which has made “contradictory statements about the case and whose case has been turned over to local prosecutors for further investigation,” Feng said.
Formosa Oilseed and Pei Chin also procured some of its copper chlorophyllin from Toong Yeuan, which supplied the substance to three other companies — two of which used it legally on non-food products, while the third had not yet been determined.
For the water-soluble sodium copper chlorophyllin, Bifido and Toong Yeuan are two of the four major importers, with Bifido using it in drinks — which is permissible — and Toong Yeuan selling it to 24 food companies, 16 of which used the chemical in appropriate food products, four in non-food products, two have since pulled their products off the shelves voluntarily, and two (Pei Chin and Formosa Oilseed) are under investigation.
Chin Haoo Trading Co and Yih-Yuan Food Additives Chemical Industrial Co are two other importers of sodium copper chlorophyllin, with each having sold the additive to some food companies that have been illicitly adding the substance to certain food products such as noodles, tapioca, wet seaweed, dumpling wraps, kamaboko (fish cakes) and ready-made cold noodles.
Feng called on all food companies whose products fail to comply with regulations, including mislabeling the substance as “natural chlorophyll,” to take the initiative to pull the products off the shelves and report them to health authorities immediately.
“They might face a lighter penalty if they do so before we find out,” Feng said. “They face fines of between NT$30,000 [US$1,000] and NT$3 million if we discover the violation.”
President Natural Co of Uni-President Enterprises was found to have mislabeled sodium copper chlorophyllin as “natural chlorophyll” on one of its energy drinks and has been fined NT$200,000.
Officials also found ready-made cold noodles containing sodium copper chlorophyllin, which were made by one of the companies that bought the substance from Yih Yuang to make “macha cold noodles” for 7-Eleven in June and July last year.
Luxe Enterprises denied knowing that it was sodium copper chlorophyllin, adding that the green tea-flavored cold noodles was a seasonal product and it had stopped buying the additive after the sales period.