Importers urged to recall suspect Taiwan products

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong's top health official has called on importers of Taiwanese food and drugs to make a voluntary recall of suspected tainted products.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow Yat-ngok said yesterday the government would step up inspection on Taiwanese food imports after more than a million food and beverage items there were found to contain a cancer-causing agent, commonly known as DEHP.

'If we find any products containing this chemical, they will be removed from shelves. It is our aim not to let these products reach our consumers,' he said after attending a ceremony in Tsim Sha Tsui, adding that importers of Taiwanese goods should have the self-discipline to recall suspected products.

In the latest discovery, Taiwanese authorities have found a brand of syrup used in making a children's medicine contained DEHP. The latest disclosure came after it was revealed that Taiwan's Tea Time House had used the cancer-causing agent - which can also damage the liver and kidneys - to make its popular Passiona Fruit Juice.

The chain's Hong Kong brand has halted sales of some drinks to ease safety concerns. The Centre for Food Safety said test results on Tea Time House's passion fruit juice would be ready this week.

Chow said there was no need for undue fear, as Taiwanese-made drugs formed only a small proportion of drugs supplied to Hong Kong. Society of Hospital Pharmacists vice-president William Chui Chun-ming said the same, adding that most drug syrups came from Singapore and the mainland. But he said the government should check if these syrups contained Taiwanese ingredients.

Authorities in Taiwan discovered last week that DEHP, which acts as a clouding agent to improve taste and appearance, had been added to some food and beverage products in the past five years.

More than a million drink and food items produced by about 200 food companies have been found to have been tainted by the chemical.