Food safety authorities in Asia and Australasia have banned a number of soft drinks from Taiwan after it emerged that a clouding agent had been contaminating with the plastics additive DEHP.
Sports drinks, juices and fruit jellies are among the products that have been pulled from shelves in Taiwan and banned by trading partners in the wake of the contamination scare.
What is DEHP?
Used in food and drink packaging to make plastic less brittle, di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is not approved as a food additive by any national authority. But it has emerged that a clouding agent used in drinks in Taiwan had been adulterated with the potentially cancer-causing additive.
There have so far been no confirmed reports of illness but to protect public health the Taiwanese government has overseen the destruction of 2.3 tons of tainted beverage products, according to Associated Press.
International reaction. Trading partners have been alerted and food safety authorities in a number of countries have announced product bans.
On Friday, Chinese authorities announced the suspension of imports of 950 products from 280 Taiwanese companies.
And an alert published by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service last week said Hong Kong has so far banned two sports drinks and one fruit jelly product from Taiwan. The contamination incident has also prompted the Hong Kong government to set a maximum threshold for DEHP – bearing in mind that low levels of the additive may be present in food due to migration from plastic packaging.
Concern about the DEHP contamination incident spread as far as New Zealand where food safety authorities banned imports of a guava fruit drink and a lemon drink from Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) told this publication that it had not been asked to work on the case for the moment.
Aporte: Lilian Rojas