Wed, Jul 19, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Sweetener found in frozen Thai pineapples

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A consumer’s complaint about a frozen pineapple product from Thailand, which its producer markets as unadulterated, was passed on by Taipei City Councilor Huang Hsiang-chun (黃向群) to the city’s Department of Health, which found the product contained artificial sweetener and ordered its recall.

The product, Dragon King Pineapples, are miniature peeled pineapples curved into a spiral about the size of a fist. They are imported by a company called Mr. Nori and mostly sold in packs of five by online food retailer i3Fresh.

“The consumer felt that the pineapple tasted unnaturally sweet and that it had a weird texture,” Huang said.

The department’s tests showed that the pineapples contained 1.1g per kilogram of cyclamic acid, an artificial sweetener that is permitted in dried melon seeds, preserved fruit or carbonated beverages, but not in fresh fruit.

Food and Drug Administration data indicate that excessive consumption of cyclamic acid can cause kidney damage, an electrolyte disturbance or photosensitive dermatitis, Huang said.

Eating one-and-a-half packs of the product would exceed the safe amount of the substance for an adult weighing 60kg, he said, adding that more than 100,000 packs of the product have been sold in Taiwan.

Under the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法), producers are not allowed to add cyclamic acid to fresh fruit and vegetables, department Food and Drug Division director Wang Ming-li (王明理) said, adding that the agency has told the retailer to remove the product from its Web site.

The importer may face a fine between NT$30,000 and NT$3 million (US$988 and US$98,782) for illegal additives and the retailer may face a fine of between NT$40,000 and NT$4 million for false advertising, she said, adding that the companies must provide compensation or refund options to consumers.

Hamk Chang (張右承), CEO of i3Fresh, said the factory in Thailand had purchased pineapples from other factories due to insufficient supply, so that pineapples containing artificial sweetener might have been mixed with unadulterated fruit.

Consumers who purchased the product between May and June could receive a full refund, he said.

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