Taiwan warns Vietnam of tainted drinks shipment

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Taiwanese health officials last Friday notified Vietnamese authorities that a batch of drinks contaminated with a toxic chemical is on its way to Vietnam.

According to a message broadcast on Chinese television channel CCTV4 the same day, the Taiwanese officials have already apologized for the incident. 

Two days earlier, the Taiwanese Department of Health confirmed to the World Health Organization it had discovered DEHP or di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, a potentially cancer-causing plasticizer, in some bottled drinks.

The officials informed health officials in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States of their alarming discovery.

Investigators found that the DEHP contamination was mainly the fault of Yu Shen Chemical Co., the largest emulsifier supplier in Taiwan.

Taiwanese officials said that the firm illegally added the banned chemical DEHP to an emulsifier as a substitute for the more expensive palm oil, in order to cut production costs.

The emulsifier has been used legally as a food additive in fruit juice, jam and soft drinks. However, Yu Shen Chemical added the industrial plasticizer DEHP to its emulsifier, which was sold to more than 40 food and drink manufacturers around Taiwan.

Last Friday (May 27), Taiwanese Food and Drug Administration announced they confirmed that 94 brands of drinks manufactured by 68 Taiwanese companies had been contaminated with DEHP.

However, authorities said the estimated number of tainted brands may be as high as 371.

As of last Thursday (May 26), China recalled more than 4,800 bottles of DEHP-tainted sports drinks from stores.

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