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FEHD and DH take measures to follow up on plasticiser contamination incident in Taiwan (with photos)

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (May 30) that it would prohibit from noon tomorrow (May 31) imports and supply of the following two sports drinks:

(1) Brand and food name: Speed sports drink
Manufacturer: Young Energy Source Co., Ltd
Place of origin: Taiwan
Count/Weight/Volume: All count/weight/volume
Batch No.: All batches

(2) Brand and food name: Speed lemon flavour
             sports drink
Manufacturer: Young Energy Source Co., Ltd
Place of origin: Taiwan
Count/Weight/Volume: All count/weight/volume
Batch No.: All batches

CFS also ordered the trade (importer/distributor/retailer) to complete recall of the two aforesaid sports drinks available in the market according to the specified manner within 30 days from noon tomorrow.

Relevant drinks that are accompanied by a certificate issued by the relevant Taiwanese authority certifying that the levels of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) do not exceed 1.5 parts per million (ppm) will be excluded.

The Controller of CFS, Dr Constance Chan, and the Assistant Director of Health (Special Health Services) of the Department of Health (DH), Dr Heston Kwong, held a joint press briefing today on measures taken by FEHD and DH to follow up on the DEHP contamination incident in Taiwan.

"Immediate follow-up actions have been taken by conducting sales checks at the retail outlets since CFS learned of the incident in Taiwan last week, but no such sports drinks have been found available in the market," Dr Chan said.

Four samples of different batches of the Speed sports drink (600 ml) and two samples of the Speed lemon flavour sports drink (600 ml) have later on been collected at the warehouse of the sole importer in Hong Kong, Jet Win Food Ltd, according to the information provided by the Taiwanese authority. They were sent to the Government Laboratory for testing. The company and the retailers concerned had already suspended sale and started recalling the affected products at that time.

"Results obtained today indicated that a plasticiser DEHP was found in all of the above six samples at levels between 11 ppm and 43 ppm," Dr Chan said.

"With reference to our risk assessment findings, the exposure of DEHP from the consumption of the affected drinks by average and high consumers would exceed the safety reference value, i.e. the tolerable daily intake of 0.025 milligrammes (mg) per kilogramme (kg) of body weight under the World Health Organization Guidelines for drinking-water quality, which may pose a risk to human health. Long-term consumption at high level may affect the liver and the kidney, and may cause cancer. CFS made the decision to safeguard food safety and public health."

The Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene is empowered to make an order to prohibit the import and supply of any food under Section 78B of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132), and to direct that any food supplied be recalled.

"Apart from sports drinks, CFS has taken samples of Taiwan food and drinks for testing. Three samples of Taiwan style drinks were satisfactory with no detection of DEHP. Laboratory results of other samples are still pending," Dr Chan added.

“The CFS has met with the trade over the DEHP contamination incident in Taiwan to learn more about their operation and urge them to take the initiative to stop selling drinks or food suspected to be tainted with DEHP. We shall issue food alerts to the trade in a timely manner to update them on the latest information about the food incident provided by the Taiwanese authority as soon as possible.”

Dr Chan said that local vendors in Taiwan were prohibited from selling five categories of food unless the products were certified to be safe. They are: (1) sports drinks; (2) flavored juice; (3) tea beverages; (4) fruit jam/syrup and fruit jelly; and (5) powder and tablet supplement. The CFS will continue to conduct sales checks at the retail outlets and take further samples for testing according to the information provided by the Taiwanese authority and media reports there. Test results will be released daily at CFS’website (www.cfs.gov.hk).

It is understood that the origin of the problem is believed to be use of a clouding agent in the drinks which has been adulterated with DEHP.

Besides, CFS received clarification from the Taiwanese authority that only the above-mentioned two kinds of drinks produced in Taiwan suspected to have been contaminated with DEHP had been distributed to Hong Kong. The other kind of drinks announced earlier, “Dong Nung 1000 Sports Drink (Yuet’s Sports Drink)” (translation), produced by the same manufacturer in Taiwan has not been distributed to Hong Kong.

"The Centre has notified the trade of this new arrangement. It will continue to liaise with the Taiwanese authority on the incident, monitor closely the situation and take appropriate follow-up actions," Dr Chan said.

Also speaking at the press conference, Dr Heston Kwong of the DH reported that further to the recall of “Brand’s Calcium Grow Chewable Tablets” (HK-58001) on May 27, preliminary test results from the Government Laboratory showed that the tablet contained DEHP at a level of about 40 ppm. Further confirmatory tests are underway.

"Based on the preliminary results, the level of DEHP is considered unlikely to cause acute harmful effects if taken according to the recommended dosage. Nevertheless, DEHP is a possible human carcinogen and hence long term exposure should be minimised," he remarked. DH will seek Department of Justice's advice on possible legal actions against the supplier.

Follow up of other registered pharmaceutical products available in Hong Kong revealed that among the 896 products manufactured in Taiwan, 42 products contained flavouring agents as ingredients, including the calcium chewable tablets in the product recall. DH is confirming the source of the flavouring agent in the other 41 products and at the same time, will collect samples of these products for laboratory analysis and will closely monitor the results.

As regards the locally manufactured pharmaceutical products, it was found that five products from Marching Pharmaceutical Ltd contained flavouring agents bought from a Taiwanese company Wei Teh Flavour & Fragrance Enterprise Company Ltd (Wei Teh). While Wei Teh appears unrelated to the two incriminated companies named by the Taiwanese authorities, as a precautionary measure, DH will also obtain samples of these products for testing.

Meanwhile, DH has also written to all product certificate holders of pharmaceutical products and proprietary Chinese medicines (pCm) urging them to examine their products to find out if their ingredients have been adulterated with DEHP. There are a total of 529 pCm products manufactured in Taiwan. One product contained flavouring agent and samples will be collected for testing.

Dr Kwong added that DH has not received any reports about adverse events arising from consumption of the above products. DH's investigation will continue.
Ends/Monday, May 30, 2011
Issued at HKT 23:53

CFS announces test results of sports drinks produced in Taiwan (1)

Picture shows a bottle of Speed sports drink and a bottle of Speed lemon flavour sports drink produced in Taiwan. The Centre for Food Safety announced today (May 30) that a total of six samples of these two kinds of sports drinks were found to contain a plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) at levels between 11 and 43 parts per million.

 
CFS announces test results of sports drinks produced in Taiwan (2)

The Controller of the Centre for Food Safety (CFS), Dr Constance Chan (right), announced at a press briefing today (May 30) that the CFS would prohibit from noon tomorrow (May 31) imports and supply of two kinds of sports drinks produced in Taiwan by the Young Energy Source Co Ltd - Speed sports drink and Speed lemon flavour sports drink.

With her is the Assistant Director of Health (Special Health Services) of the Department of Health, Dr Heston Kwong.

 

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Last revision date:30-05-2011