The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday charged Dong Feng Food with using industrial materials in two of its food products.
Prosecutors said two company representatives, a woman surnamed Chu (朱) and a man surnamed Yang (楊), have been charged after industrial-grade calcium oxide was found in the company’s winter melon-punch cubes (冬瓜糖磚) and sugar products.
Prosecutors said industrial-grade calcium oxide is not certified by the Food and Drug Administration as a safe food additive and its use is a violation of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).
Photo provided by the Food and Drug Administration
Dong Feng also faces fines of up to NT$14.86 million (US$478,799), prosecutors said.
Food producers add food-grade calcium oxide to make products solidify faster, the Kaohsiung City Government’s Department of Health said, adding that it costs about NT$1,000 per kilogram.
Dong Feng used a cheaper industrial-grade calcium oxide which costs less than NT$100 per kilogram, the department said.
The department said it received an anonymous tip-off last year that Dong Feng was using industrial-grade materials in its food products at a factory in Kaohsiung’s Renwu District (仁武).
The city’s Economic Development Bureau said that the company’s Renwu factory was an unregistered facility operating illegally. The department notified prosecutors, who initiated an investigation on Oct. 26 last year.
The investigation report released on Jan. 13 said that the company’s melon-punch cubes, which weighed about 250g, contained 763.9mg of industrial-grade calcium oxide. The product would normally contain about 92.9mg of naturally occurring calcium oxide.
Long-term consumption of industrial-grade calcium oxide in such large amounts would damage a person’s stomach, intestines and kidneys, the department said.
Investigators seized more than 13 tonnes of melon-punch cubes from the factory and recalled 2.5 tonnes of the product from vendors in Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung.
Investigators said the company’s melon-punch cubes were used at many beverage shops throughout the three counties, including Boba Tea (丸作食茶), adding that they seized about 2 tonnes of finished products from various retailers.
Boba Tea business department manager Lee Yu-chiao (李宇喬) said that all Boba locations took Dong Feng’s products off their shelves on the day of the notice, adding that they have since switched suppliers for their melon-punch cube ingredients.
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