Taipei, May 28 (CNA) Prosecutors detained the owner of another upstream additive manufacturer Saturday as part of their ongoing investigation into the widespread plasticizer contamination in food and drink products that is linked to a common additive called clouding agent.
Pin Han Perfumery Co., located in Tucheng, New Taipei City, was found to have illegally adulterated di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) into its clouding agent, prosecutors said.
Clouding agent is used to create opacity in beverages to make them look like they have something more in them than just plain water.
The DINP-tainted additive was supplied to around 10 beverage makers in southern Taiwan, according to the prosecutors, who raided the company Friday and seized 325 kg of clouding agent as well as the company's bookkeeping and transaction records.
Health officials said DINP is a chemical similar to the carcinogenic di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) that was previously discovered in many beverage and dietary supplement brands sold on the market.
The source of the DEHP contamination was traced to clouding agent from Yu Shen Chemical Co., which used the toxic chemical as a substitute for the more expensive palm oil in order to cut production costs.
The clouding agent, a legal food additive made from gum arabic, palm oil and emulsifier, is commonly used in fruit jelly, yogurt mix powder, juices and other drinks to keep emulsions evenly dispersed and enhance viscosity.
Yu Shen Chemical's unscrupulous act was uncovered when a Food and Drug Administration inspector detected the presence of DEHP in a probiotic nutritional supplement, leading to discoveries that it was also used in sports drinks and various dietary supplements produced by some local companies.
Data from the Department of Heath showed that 186 manufacturers have possibly used the clouding agent from Yu Shen, with the number of potentially tainted products totalling 371.
The DOH on Friday required that all products containing clouding agent be pulled off shelves. Their makers must produce test certificates proving their safety within three days before they can re-enter the market. (By