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Health Ministry suspends importation of 11 food producs from Taiwan

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ministry--of-healthKUALA LUMPUR, May 30- The Health Ministry has since yesterday  suspended the importation from a number of food manufacturing companies in Taiwan, of 11 products including tapioca starch balls or pearls used in making Bubble Tea because they were reported to contain maleic acid.

The ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division senior director, Noraini Mohd Othman said in a statement today that the use of maleic acid in food products was prohibited under the Food Regulations 1985 as the long-term or high-level consumption of the item could cause kidney damage.

“The tapioca starch balls or pearls produced by several companies (in Taiwan) have been contaminated with maleic acid, which has also been detected to be present in other food products.

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“According to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, the Food and Drug Administration Taiwan is taking control action in tackling the issue,” she added in the statement.

The 11 products include tapioca balls produced by Sunright Foods Corporation, tapioca starch (Hong Kai Foods Co), black tapioca pearls (Possmei International Co Ltd), Indica rice powder (Sunright Foods Corporation), tapioca pearls (Shang Wang) and tapioca starch balls (Grand Chainly Enterprises Co Ltd).

The others are tapioca pearls (Ting Long), noodles (Sin Chi Zhi Miang Chang), tapioca pearls (An Si Li) and tapioca pearls white and black (Tapioca Foods Company Ltd).

Noraini said the ministry had also held discussions with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office here to obtain more information on the situation and would continue to monitor food products imported from Taiwan.

She said the media had reported that maleic acid was found in the tapioca balls and tapioca pearls produced by Sunright Foods Corporation of Taiwan but the ministry found no importation of this product into Malaysia.

Noraini said the ministry would take the action of detaining, testing and removing food products if the importers failed to produce the lab analysis certificate that was recognised by the Food and Drug Administration Taiwan, as  confirmation that the products were free of maleic acid.

She urged importers, distributors and sellers of such contaminated products to immediately withdraw these products from the market and for the industries using these products to stop the practice.

“If any quarters come across any product that is contaminated with maleic acid, they must report it to the ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division or to the nearest health department or health office,” she said.

Maleic acid, a colourless crystalline (sugar or sand-like) material with a faint acid odour, is usually used in textile processing and as an oil and fatpreservative.

– BERNAMA