The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday released a list of 36 food products manufactured with dimethyl yellow soybean emulsifier from Chien Hsin Enterprise (芊鑫實業社), and ordered all tainted items be pulled off shelves by midnight on Sunday or vendors and manufacturers could face fines of up to NT$200 million (US$6.4 million).
“As of 10am yesterday, a total of 2,311kg of the contaminated foodstuffs have been removed from shelves and recalled,” interim FDA director-general Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) told a news conference in Taipei.
Chiang said a preliminary inquiry found that 12 distributors purchased the banned food additive from Greater Tainan-based Chien Hsin before selling the substance to 44 downstream companies, including the 10 producers of dried tofu that manufactured the 36 affected products.
“The FDA is still investigating the other 34 downstream buyers of the emulsifier laced with dimethyl yellow, which was found at levels ranging from 2.1 to 63.6 parts per billion in the food products we have tested so far,” Chiang said.
Dimethyl yellow is a banned industrial dye that has been listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen, following research that associates long-term consumption of the substance with a higher risk of liver, lung, bladder and skin cancers in animals.
The dimethyl yellow scandal was set off after Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety discovered the prohibited dye earlier this month in prepackaged pepper-flavored dried tofu from Te Chang Food (德昌食品).
Chiang said that since dimethyl yellow is an unanticipated ingredient in the manufacturing of soybean products, it is not included in the agency’s routine tests.
“However, given this incident, the agency is to subject soybean products to dimethyl yellow tests in the future, in addition to the original testing of items for metanil yellow, hydrogen peroxide and preservatives,” Chiang said.
The 10 firms identified so far are Greater Taichung’s Te Chang Food, Yunlin County’s Huang Dah Mu Foods Co (黃大目食料品), Changhua County’s Yu Hsiang Food Co (裕香食品), Hsinchu County’s Li Yi Food (立義食品), New Taipei City’s Bao Hong Co (寶鴻企業), as well as Taipei’s Kuo Tai Hsin Yang Co (國泰欣陽), Chu Hsien Co (居賢), Pai Wei Chi Pin Food Co (百味集品食品), Hsiang Yi International Food (祥邑國際食品) and Yi Ching Hu Co (一金湖).
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