Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) recently found DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) in powdered probiotics produced by Ann Care Bio-tech Center in a joint investigation of counterfeit dugs in the market surveillance of food products. It was then traced back to the cloudy agent supplier from Yu Shen Company which intentionally substituted DEHP for other more expensive ingredients. The company was immediately requested by the authorities to stop manufacturing. Investigation of the downstream has been launched and all confirmed products associated with it are required to be removed from the shelves and sealed.
The so-called “cloudy agent” is a legal food additive that is commonly used in juice and beverages. It is generally made of Acacia gum, emulsifier, palm oil and various food additives. DEHP is a plasticizer frequently used in the production of plastics and is classified as class 4 toxic chemical substance by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). The regulations of Food Containers and Appliances mandate that the maximum limit of DEHP dissolved from plastic items must not exceed 1.5 ppm and no DEHP can be added to food products. The international acceptance criteria of daily maximum consumption range from 1.2-8.4 mg for a 60-kg adult.
The incident originated from the intentional addition of DEHP to the cloudy agent and led to food contamination. The industry guilty of the charge has been subject to inspection and punishment by TFDA and investigation authorities. Since DEHP is strictly prohibited in food, the products involved in the incident will all be confiscated and destroyed. The company will also be fined NT$ 60-300 thousand pursuant to Clause 3, Section 1, Article 11 of the Food Sanitation Act. In addition, in the event of any harmful results of human health, the company will be prosecuted according to Article 34. Many companies have been suspected manufacturing with DEHP tainted agents supplied from Yu Shen and another supplier. Some food products have also been exported. TFDA has also alerted the INFOSAN of WHO immediately.
The TFDA urges the food industry to adhere to the principle of sustainable development and clarify immediately all their product status to the public based on their obligations of providing safe food to all citizens.