MANILA, Philippines—The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers, on Wednesday, to avoid Taiwan-made jams and tea beverages too as it ordered the recall of nearly 70 food brands being sold in local supermarkets believed to be tainted with a chemical dangerous to health.
In an advisory, FDA Director Suzette Lazo ordered the immediate recall of “tentatively identified selected brands” of food products imported from Taiwan contaminated by the chemical Di (2-ethyexyl) phthalate (DEHP).
“Products whether registered or not with the FDA but identified on the list shall be recalled and disposed of accordingly,” stated Lazo. She also ordered the same actions on Taiwan-made products not found on the list but unregistered with the agency.
“To ensure the safety of our consumers, all Taiwan food products, particularly beverages are being removed from the shelves,” said Department of Health consultant, Dr. Willie Ong, in a phone interview.
Lazo has also required that other Taiwan-made products registered with the FDA but not identified on the list of high-risk products be temporarily withdrawn from the market and be subject to laboratory tests to ensure the absence of DEHP, said Ong.
The list provided by the Taiwan authorities included more than 200 food brands of fruit juices, sports drinks, soft drinks, jellies, teas and jams. At least 66 of these brands were found to be available in the local market, said Ong.
“After checking the list, there are two additional food categories that our consumers must avoid and these are teas and jams imported from Taiwan,” he said.
Pending the identification of the brands early this week, the FDA initially warned consumers against buying sports drinks, soft drinks, fruit juices and jellies from Taiwan. Tea beverages and jam products from the Republic of China were also among those found contaminated by DEHP.
Taiwan authorities have earlier confirmed that the chemical DEHP was illegally added to a food product raw material described as a “cloudy agent” and intended for emulsification.
Following the discovery, Taiwan authorities have required that all food products with food additives supplied from Yu Shen Company be removed from shelves.
The list of products said to be contaminated by DEHP included sports drinks manufactured by Hyatt Brand Food Co.; fruit juices of various flavors produced by Bosi US International Industrial Co. Ltd. Kagawa Industrial Co. and Jing Wang Food Co.; fruit syrups manufactured by Lin International Trading Co., Ltd.; fruit juice powders by Wang Chun Industrial Corp. and Hip Shing Chemical Co. Ltd. and fruit drinks by Sun Biotech Co. Ltd., among others.
The complete list of contaminated products can be found at the FDA website, www.bfad.gov.ph. The website shows two lists—the official list written in Chinese characters while the second is a tentative English translation of the latter.
On its official website, the Taiwanese Food and Drug Administration reported that 465,638 bottles of juice, fruit jams, syrups, fruit and yogurt powders, tea beverages and sports drinks contaminated with DEHP have been recalled.
Over 136,000 boxes and 38,000 packs of powdered probiotics, among other products, have also been removed from the shelves, according to FDA’s counterpart in Taiwan.
The local FDA ordered distributors and importers, on Wednesday, to stop selling the recalled products and reminded supermarkets and other food establishments not to serve these products to their customers.
It also strictly advised consumers against using the tainted products “and throw them in a manner that prevents others from consuming them.” Individuals who suspect that they have become ill from consumption of affected products must see a doctor immediately.
DEHP is widely used in the manufacture of plastic articles like intravenous bags and tubing, gastric tubes and blood bags. While low doses of the chemical are safe, prolonged exposure could have harmful effects to health.
High or repeated exposure to DEHP among children could lead to testicular defects, toxicity in kidneys and fertility problems.
Ong said underdevelopment of testes among male children and early menarche (the first menstrual bleeding), among young girls would be among the effects of repeated or prolonged exposure to the chemical.