Mainland suspends imports of tainted Taiwan drinks

Updated: 2011-06-01 16:48
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BEIJING - Chinese mainland announced on Wednesday that as of June 1, it will suspend imports of beverages, food products and food additives from Taiwan that are produced by companies suspected of using a cancer-causing plastic additive.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) said the mainland has been notified by authorities in Taiwan that some beverages and food products may have been contaminated with bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), an organic compound that is used by manufacturers to soften plastic.

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The GAQSIQ said it will enhance inspections, tests and supervision over food and food additives imported from Taiwan to protect the health of consumers in the mainland.

According to a GAQSIQ statement, only beverages, food products and additives produced by manufacturers that have been certified DEHP-free by qualified laboratories can be imported.

More than 4,800 bottled beverages produced by the Taiwan Yes Sports Drink company have reportedly been recalled in the mainland over suspicions of DEHP contamination.

In addition, the food safety commission under the State Council, or China's cabinet, has ordered increased inspections and instant recalls for beverages, food products and additives contaminated with DEHP if they are found in factories, stores, or restaurants.

The Ministry of Health has blacklisted DEHP as an inedible material that is likely to be illegally added to food.

Local quality inspectors in south China's Guangdong Province confirmed on Tuesday that a company founded by a Taiwanese businessman in the province's city of Dongguan used materials contaminated with DEHP to produce food additives.

The additives were sold in the province's cities of Guangzhou, Jiangmen and Dongguan, and local authorities have confiscated the company's raw materials, products and production facilities.

DEHP is widely used as a plasticizer in the manufacture of items such as medical tubing and intravenous bags.

Children are especially prone to the harmful effects of high doses of DEPH, which can lead to testicular or kidney damage and fertility problems.