The Taipei Times reports:
Children who consume 350ml of tainted fluid containing 12 parts per million (ppm) of DEHP on a daily basis for 12 consecutive months are six to eight times more at risk of developing problems with their reproductive system when they become adults, recent research by the National Health Research Institutes showed.Lawmakers in Taiwan immediately proposed harsher penalties for food adulteration. Like that will work. The China Post adds:
Institute president Kenneth Wu (伍焜玉) said DEHP is suspected to be an endocrine disruptor, which could lead to the shrinking in size of the penis and testicles in men and thyroid dysfunction.
DEHP’s effect on children is magnified, because the concentration of the harmful chemical is higher in persons with a lower body mass.
“The health risk of an adult consuming the same amount of DEHP beverage is reduced by half,” Wu said.
The result was based on statistics from a US study in the 1980s that tested DEHP on rats.
“We are not yet sure of the health risks of DEHP on humans because little academic information was found,” Wu said.
“But we hope that the incident can help us understand more of the hazard’s ratio.”
Wu said that since DEHP is released from the body naturally within five to 12 hours, the health risks for infrequent consumers are relatively low.
During yesterday's press conference, Deputy Justice Minister Chen Shou-huang noted that prosecutors in southern Changhua County, which are responsible for investigating the case, have already seized money from the company's owner, surnamed Lai, that he earned by selling the additives.Some famous local brands have been affected. The China Post has some details:
The move came after authorities received intelligence that Lai had withdrawn all his money from several different bank accounts following the incident. Prosecutors also seized Lai's assets.
Also yesterday, prosecutors in the county raided dozens of food and beverage manufacturers' factories that were found to be using Yu Shen's additive in their products.
A total of 12 factories, including facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City, Changhua County, Nantou County and Pingtung County were searched yesterday, the prosecutors said.
The crisis has caught up with 168 food industry businesses over the last few days, forcing them to discard about 1 million units of their products and feeding fears that their business reputation may become tarnished.The China Post notes that just 49 of the 168 companies involved have confirmed use of the additive.
Even state-run enterprises such as Taiwan Sugar Corporation (台糖) and the Taiyen Co. Inc. (台鹽) have to withdraw products made with plasticizers, including some best-sellers, and submit them for testing to SGS, a professional testing company. Already, Taiwan Sugar's Oligo Lactic Acidic Bacteria (寡醣乳酸菌), a best-selling item, was found to be safe.
Uni-President and Weichuan, two giants in the food industry, are said to be checking other products made with raw materials not sourced from Yu Shen Company (昱伸公司), a long-time producer of the additive and the suspected source for the contamination.
Uni-President, Taiwan maker of sports drink Pocari Sweat, says it does not use much plasticizer in its products.
Brand's (白蘭氏), maker of health food the Brand's Chicken Essence, yesterday announced the immediate withdrawal of a calcium tablet and a vitamin tablet, while promising consumers a refund. The two products, made by a Taiwan manufacturer for Brand's and marketed under the Brand's label, have been found to be laced with DEHP. Prince Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.(王子製藥股份有限公司), the manufacturer, has admitted to sourcing materials from Yu Shen while bracing for possible lawsuits against it by Brand's.
Not only have the share prices of all local food firms taken a beating, but the scandal has also impacted the reputation of food products from Taiwan. The US FDA is apparently monitoring Taiwan products for DEHP, which is used in industry to make plastic soft and pliable. According to the various news reports, DEHP is not retained in the body for more than several hours, so if you drink and eat DEHP containing products irregularly, you apparently have little to worry about. Which is good, because with the traffic, there is already enough to worry about here....
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