Wed, Mar 29, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Taipei’s inspection of spring rolls fails 20% of ingredients

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Of 40 spring roll ingredient items to undergo a food safety inspection, eight failed to reach stipulated standards, the Taipei Department of Health said on Monday.

With spring rolls traditionally eaten over the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, the random inspections were conducted near popular temples in Taipei, including Longshan Temple (龍山寺) and Fude Temple (福德宮).

Five peanut powder items were found to contain excessive levels of aflatoxins — toxic metabolites produced by molds that grow on food, the department said, adding that one item was found to have an aflatoxin level of 80.5 parts per billion (ppb), about five times the maximum permissible level of 15ppb.

Two dried bean curd items were found to contain residues of hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent that is not permitted in food products, and a pickled vegetable item was found with excessive levels of sulfur dioxide, a chemical used as a food preservative, the department said.

“As Taiwan is humid, aflatoxins are likely to grow on foods such as corn or nuts if they are not properly stored,” Taipei Veterans General Hospital toxicologist Yang Chen-chang (楊振昌) said.

High levels of aflatoxins in food can cause liver damage and increase the risk of liver cancer, especially in people who have hepatitis B or hepatitis C, he said.

Exposure to high levels of hydrogen peroxide can cause headaches, vomiting or even corrosive injuries to the gastrointestinal tract, while excessive exposure to sulfur dioxide can result in difficulty breathing, diarrhea and vomiting, and trigger allergic reactions in people with asthma, he said.

The products that failed the inspections were removed from shelves, and the shops will face a fine between NT$30,000 and NT$3 million (US$994 and US$99,436) if they fail inspections again, Taipei Food and Drugs Division director Wang Ming-li (王明理) said.

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