Chun Cui He Taiwan milk tea back in stores - without the non-permitted food additive

SINGAPORE - Popular Chun Cui He Taiwan milk tea is back on the shelves - this time without the non-permitted food additive that prompted its recall in August.

Chun Cui He, or Just Drink, announced that its bottled tea was back "with an improved formula" in a Facebook post on Thursday (Dec 29).

A spokesman for Abana, the brand's Singapore supplier, told The Straits Times on Friday (Dec 30) that the drink was progressively rolled out to all 7-Eleven stores on Thursday, and "should be in most stores by today".

It is still priced at $2.80.

A spokesman for 7-Eleven, which carries the Chun Cui He brand exclusively in Singapore, said that the drink was approved for sale and consumption in mid-November, and that delivery to more than 400 stores islandwide will take up to 48 hours, based on delivery routes.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) in August pulled the milk tea bottled drinks from shelves as it contained L-theanine, a non-permitted food additive. On Friday, AVA told The Straits Times that importers must check the ingredients list against the Singapore Food Regulations, and that it understood from the importer that the milk tea does not contain the additive.

L-theanine, an amino acid found naturally in tea plants and fungi, is said to have calming properties.

The Abana spokesman said its Taiwan supplier had removed L-theanine from the drink and "improved the formula". He declined comment on how else the formula has been improved.

Taiwanese food company Bifido, which produces the milk tea, previously said that it had submitted documents to AVA to register L-theanine as a permitted food additive.

Read also: What are the long-term effects of Chun Cui He milk tea's unapproved additive?

Abana's spokesman said the ingredient was slated to be approved by "the first quarter of 2017", but they decided to reintroduce the drink as soon as possible without the additive to avoid any delay.

He added that response so far "is very positive", and that the company is still monitoring the situation.

Both the importer and 7-Eleven claimed that the taste is exactly the same.

Chun Cui He milk tea and latte drinks sparked a buying frenzy when they debuted at 7-Eleven stores here in July, with the convenience store chain setting a limit of four bottles per customer. The latte flavour was not affected by the product recall.

The Abana spokesman said the company has tried to bring in more stock this time round.

Customers have already started posting pictures of their milk tea purchases on social media. They may be in for more soon. The 7-Eleven spokesman said: "Customers can look forward to more flavours from Chun Cui He in 2017."

This article was first published on Dec 30, 2016.
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