Over 40,000 kg of tofu products recalled in Taipei

Over 40,000 kg of tofu products recalled in Taipei

TAIPEI - According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), over 40,000 kilograms of bean products that contain the unapproved chemical agent dimethyl yellow have been recalled.

Authorities will continue to inspect five companies that produce similar chemical agents for bean products to see if their products are unsafe for human consumption.

As Qian Hsin, the main supplier for many local tofu factories, was found to have used inedible chemical agents, health authorities not only have pulled tainted food products from the shelves but also inspected similar products that may have used unapproved materials.

The FDA sent six samples of emulsifying agent, used to eliminate unwanted foam during the production of bean products, from five other companies to their laboratory yesterday. It is expected that the result will be published in a week, said the FDA. Meanwhile, the agency will continue to see if any other products are involved in the tofu scandal.

FDA official Wang De-yuan said local health authorities sent 411 people to inspect 912 food retailers, markets and food manufacturers. Most tainted products that were discovered have been recalled, said the FDA. The accumulated amount of recalled products has reached 40,260 kilograms.

Although a new amendment to the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation has already passed its third reading and was published by the president on Dec. 10, it will not be applied to the tainted tofu case, said FDA acting Director Chiang Yu-mei. According to Chiang, the tofu scandal was revealed on Dec. 6, which was before the new regulation went into effect.

The new regulation will not be applied to the tofu case and illegal acts revealed in the tofu case prior to the publication day will still be issued a NT$60,000 (S$2,508) to NT$50 million fine based on the old regulations.

According to prosecutors, the owner of Qian Hsin, surnamed Lu, denied using industrial-grade chemical agent dimethyl yellow when producing his emulsifying agent. Lu claimed that illegal agents were provided by Rong-mei Chemistry, the supplier to Lu's company.

However, as Lu's testimony changed many times during questioning, prosecutors still detained the suspect for further investigation on Dec. 16.

So far, prosecutors have already investigated the process and methods used to produce the emulsifying agent and are working on the way it exported its products.

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