KUALA LUMPUR - The Health Ministry has directed the distributors of tapioca starch pearls which were imported from the Wang Tai company in Taiwan, to withdraw the food product from the market and dispose of them as they contain maleic acid.
The ministry's senior director of food safety and quality, Noraini Othman said, 66 samples of the food products comprising tapioca balls or tapioca pearls, noodles and dried mee hoon and tapioca starch, which were taken from the market, had been analysed.
She said that the results showed that 65 samples were found to be free of the acid.
"However, those who had consumed the products need not fear because the consumption of small amounts of maleic acid occasionally is not hazardous to health," she said.
Tapioca starch pearls are usually used as an ingredient in beverages.
In another development, she said imports of 16 food products had been suspended by the ministry.
She said the ministry monitored food products that were imported into the country from Taiwan and the public could obtain information on the products by contacting 03-88833652 or 03-88833653 or on the ministry's website. On May 28, the ministry suspended the import of 11 products from Taiwan.
They include the tapioca balls produced by Sunright Foods Corporation, tapioca starch (Hong Kai Foods Co), black tapioca pearls (Possmei International Co Ltd), Indica rice powder (Sunright Foods Corporation), tapioca pearls (Shang Wang) and tapioca starch balls (Grand Chainly Enterprises Co Ltd).
The others are tapioca pearls (Ting Long), noodles (Sin Chi Zhi Miang Chang), tapioca pearls (An Si Li) and tapioca pearls white and black (Tapioca Foods Company Ltd). On Monday, four more products were found to contain maleic acid.
They are green tea tapioca ball and yam tapioca ball produced by Full Free Co Ltd and vegetarian instant rice noodle and rice noodle with thick soup produced by Long Kow Foods Corp The ministry had since been monitoring food products imported from Taiwan and, on Thursday, 30 food products were confirmed to be free from maleic acid contamination.
Noraini said the public did not have to worry about the safety of foods imported from Taiwan as controls were imposed on imports from that country.