Vietnam finds allegedly tainted Taiwanese food products

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Inspectors from the Vietnam Food Administration (VFA) announced on Wednesday that they have seized a shipment of food additives that may have been tainted with DEHP a chemical used in plastics.

The shipment was discovered a day earlier in a warehouse owned by Taiwanese-invested New Choice Foods Ltd., in the Vietnam-Singapore 2 Industrial Zone in Binh Duong Province's Ben Cat District.

Vietnam recently launched a series of nationwide inspection campaign following notifications from Taiwan's Department of Health that the Taiwan-based Triko Foods Company had sold chemical food additives suspected to contain DEHP to New Choice.

Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Thursday that part of the shipment, which was imported to the New Choice Foods early this year, was used to make jellies and had been sold on the domestic market.

VFA ordered the firm was ordered to recall all jelly products and publicize the information to its customers.

The VFA has yet to release any conclusions whether the New Choice Foods jelly products were infected with DEHP or not.

Last month, Taiwan's Department of Health confirmed to the World Health Organization it had discovered DEHP or di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (a plasticizer used in the making of medical devices) in some bottled sports drinks.

On May 31, VFA inspectors were deployed across the country to track down Taiwanese drinks, food products and additives.

The VFA said it is working closely with the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) and the Taiwanese Health Department to compile a list of companies supplying products to the Vietnamese market.

It described DEHP as a "clouding agent" that had been illegally added to raw food materials by the Yu Shen Chemical Co. the largest emulsifier supplier in Taiwan and sold to more than 40 food and drink manufacturers throughout the territory.

Taiwanese officials said that the firm illegally added the banned chemical 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.

DEHP can affect hormone balances in young people, and has been identified as carrying serious health risks in plastic toys for children.

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