Factory owner detained amid additive scare

Updated: 2011-06-03 06:50


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GUANGZHOU - Police in south China have detained the owner of a food processing factory suspected of mixing an industrial chemical used to soften plastic with food additives, local officials said Thursday.

This develops as the mainland's crackdown on Taiwan-originated food contamination continues.

Police in Guangdong Province arrested the owner of Yuyan Food Co. Ltd., and confiscated 6 tonnes of food additives as well as 0.6 tonnes of raw materials during their raid to the company's factory in Dongguang City Wednesday, officials with the provincial food safety commission said.

Initial probe shows that Yuyan Food Co. Ltd. imported raw materials suspectedly contaminated with industry chemical bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) from its Taiwan partner.

The company, which started to operate in April 2009, produced about 3,000 kilograms food additives averagely every month. The products were mostly sold in the province, food safety official said.

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 DEHP, which can lead to testicular or kidney damage and fertility problems.

The Chinese mainland began the crackdown on DEHP-tainted foods after authorities in Taiwan announced this week that many food and drink products produced by the island's manufacturers were found to contain the chemical.

In Guangdong Province, the local industry and commerce administration has ordered a recall of 496 bottles of Taiwan beverages suspected of containing DEHP, as well as another 1,500 bottles of Taiwan beverages that were not quarantined after arriving in the province.

The administration said it is launching a thorough inspection of food and beverage products that have passed through manufacturing, transport and retail channels in order to prevent contaminated products from being consumed.

In the city of Xiamen in Fujian Province, the local industry and commerce administration has recalled at least 678 bottled beverages from Taiwan that did not have proper documentation. The authority also launched a "blanket inspection" of food products from Taiwan.

Meanwhile, sales of Taiwan beverages on China's major e-commerce platform were halted on Thursday. Many products were labeled "DEHP-free" by their vendors in order to attract customers.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said that starting from June 1, the mainland will suspend imports of beverages, food products and food additives from Taiwan that are produced by companies suspected of using DEHP.

Only beverages, food products and additives produced by manufacturers that have been certified DEHP-free may be sold on the mainland market.

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.

As of Thursday night, mainland importers have recalled more than 4,800 bottles of DEHP-tainted sports drinks from Taiwan.


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