Holiday Nation

Ban extended to more Taiwan food imports

By He Dan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-05 08:03
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Two mainland brands also restricted in action against plastic additives

BEIJING - The mainland's top quality watchdog has stepped up its ban on imports of products from Taiwan that have been contaminated by an industrial chemical used to soften plastic packaging.

In its latest update on the import ban posted on its official website on Saturday, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said the mainland would suspend imports of 858 kinds of products, including beverages, food products and food additives, made by 255 companies in Taiwan.

On the blacklist: asparagus juice made by the popular brand Uni-President as well as a number of children's products, such as the nutrition brand Karihome made by Taiwan Direct Biological Technology Company.

Meanwhile, the State Food and Drug Administration has suspended the production and sale of two health products for containing toxic phthalate acid esters (PAEs) made by two companies in the mainland on Friday.

The banned products are Lingzhi spores powder produced by Beijing Xiehe Medicine Industry Co, Ltd and pills of multi-amino acid made by Qingdao Meizhong Natural Biotechnological products Company in Qingdao city, in East China's Shandong province.

The administration stipulated in a notice on its official website that other health-food companies should also stop producing products containing the inedible plasticizer. It also requires the producers to recall all the illegal products in the market.

Taiwan list expanded

The new list of banned Taiwan products is much longer than the original one issued by the AQSIQ on June 1, when the quality watchdog said the mainland would suspend imports of 22 kinds of beverages, food products and food additives from Taiwan that are produced by companies suspected of using bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP).

The food-safety commission under the State Council, or cabinet, has also ordered increased inspections and instant recalls of beverages, food products and additives contaminated with DEHP.

The cancer-causing plasticizer DEHP in food and drinks can lead to kidney or testicular damage and fertility problems, if consumed regularly and accumulated in human bodies. Children are the most vulnerable group to such hazardous effects.

Economic impact

The DEHP scandal will act as a hard hit on the beverage industry in Taiwan, which is expected to suffer a loss of NT$500 million (113.6 million yuan), Chang Jui-chuan, secretary general of the Taiwan Beverage Industries Association, was quoted by Taiwan Central News Agency as saying.

So far, it is not clear whether food and beverage producers in the mainland have been illegally adding DEHP to their products, experts said.

However, about 20 kinds of plasticizers have been widely used in commodities such as packing materials, plastic containers for cooking oil and toys, which have potential risks for the public's health, said Dong Jinshi, executive vice-president of the International Food Packaging Association.

"For example, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) wrappers usually contain DEHP. If these are being used to wrap food with high fat or being heated in a microwave, the food will be polluted," Dong told China Daily on Saturday.

Dong pointed out that some food producers' lack of the knowledge about what additives can be used and how to use them is an important reason for the soaring food accidents.

"The government should make it compulsory for food producers to learn relevant information and regulations to prevent more food scandals from happening," Dong said.

Given the expanding trade in agricultural and food products between the mainland and Taiwan, it's urgent for the two sides to strengthen cooperation in food-safety management, said Sang Liwei, a food-safety lawyer and the China representative of the Global Food Safety Forum.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 06/05/2011 page2)

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