Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, otherwise known as DEHP is a well known toxic plasticiser. It’s primary industrial uses are in the construction of PVC pipes, as a solvent in those night glow sticks you see at raves, as well as an insulator in electrical conductors.

Unfortunately for Taiwan, DEHP has also found a primary use in being used as a cheap substitute for palm oil in its emulsifiers for the past twenty years.

Needless to say human consumption of DEHP is not advised. The side effects of consuming DEHP include;

  • A noticeable decrease in pens width (insert Asian joke about penises here)
  • A decrease in anogenital distance (the bit of skin between your nuts and anus
  • newborns being born with testicles that haven’t fully developed
  • a link to obesity
  • endocrine disruption including cancerous tumor growths, birth defects, learning disorders, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems, deformations of the body, sexual development problems and feminizing of males or masculine effects on females
  • cardiotoxity (stuffing up your heart and related functions)

Turns out the rise of Taiwan’s feminised males might be co-incidental after all.

As I mentioned earlier, DEHP found its way into Taiwan food supply as a cheap substitute for palm oil based emulsifiers, emulsifiers being clouding agents designed to make your food look clouded and pretty.

The two (known) Taiwanese companies responsible for using DEHP in their clouding agents are Yu Shen Chemical Co (昱伸香料有限公司), headed up by president Lai Chun-chieh (賴俊傑) and Pin Han Perfumery Co (賓漢香料公司).

Together, these two companies have supplied an estimated 215 companies with their clouding agents.

Shortly after the DEHP supply train was traced back his company, Lai was arrested and has been in custody since. Since his arrest, Lai has decided that he is ‘no longer concerned with mundane matters of wealth‘ and spends his days ‘chanting Buddhist scriptures’.

Poor him.

Fortunately for Lai, even if he is successfully prosecuted for poisoning Taiwan for two decades, the maximum enforceable punishment is
up to six months jail.

This Lai guy put his own hip pocket before 22 million people’s health and welfare for at least twenty years. How about the death penalty or at least life imprisonment without parole?

(sidenote: I don’t support the death penalty but it exists in Taiwan, so while it’s legal why not make use of it).

As far as the government and regulators concerned… twenty years and nobody picked this up? Bribery and corruption can’t help but spring to mind.

For starters, how about sacking whoever’s incharge of carrying out tests and completely overhauling the testing system itself. Clearly it’s not working.

Meanwhile for those of us not fluent in Chinese, whilst there are numerous news articles out covering the DEHP contamination scare on a daily basis, I thought it’d be a good idea to consolidate rolling news coverage surrounding it.

Kicking off in late May, here’s a rough timeline of the DEHP scare situation so far in Taiwan (I’ll update it as new developments occur).

March 2011 – Taiwan FDA finds initial traces of DEHP ‘during a routine check of beverages for banned chemicals.

DEHP contamination is recorded as high as 600ppm in 16 samples of sports and softdrinks including Sunkist Lemon Juice, Taiwan Yes energy-boosting drink.

FDA spends the next few weeks on further testing and ascertaining the extent of DEHP contamination.

May 23 2011 – The Government goes public with it’s detection of DEHP in several products.

Under FDA direction, known contaiminated drinks are pulled from store shelves.

May 26th 2011 – Editorial states government has seized460,000 bottles of soft drinks, 20 tonnes of fruit and yogurt powder and 130,000 packets of tainted probiotic powder‘.

May 28th 2011 – 40,000kg of juice and jam are recalled and thousands of kilograms of emulsifiers and food ingredients confiscated.

Government introduces mandatory testing for DEHP in food and drink products that use emulsifiers. Companies manufacturing these products must have their products tested to prove they are not contaminated with DEHP.

May 29th 2011 – Deadline for testing to be carried out is set for May 31st. Companies of five major categories of food and beverages (sports drinks, juices, tea drinks, fruit jams or syrups, and tablets or powders) must have their products certified free of ‘six designated chemicals‘ (DEHP, diisononyl phthalate or DINP, di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP)).

If tests are failed to be carried out manufacturers run the risk of having their products banned.

May 31st 2011 – First inspections are carried out on retailers. Three retailers (Carrefour and two Hi-Life stores) are fined for failing to follow the Department of Health’s instructions on displaying proof products are certified DEHP free.

Hong Kong bans two Taiwanese export drinks, Speed sports drink and Speed lemon flavor sports drink, after they are found to contain DEHP.

Taiwanese government also warns the Philippines that various products exported to the country could be contaminated with DEHP. Some Philippine supermarkets voluntarily pull Taiwanese products from their shelves.

Taiwan’s night markets report a drop in patronage specifically related to the sale of cold drinks and shaved ice desserts. Shilin night market in Taipei is apparently the hardest hit whilst a nightmarket vendor in Khaosiung claimed his business had ‘plunged substantially‘.

June 2nd 2011 – China bans the import of Taiwan produced sports drinks, fruit juices and jams on the advice from the Taiwanese government that they may be DEHP contaminated.

Additionally Uni-President, the largest food manufacturer in Taiwan and Asia, along with nine other companies in Taiwan are temporarily banned from exporting any products to China.

South Korea also bans the import of various Taiwanese produced food and drink products.

June 3rd 2011 – Police raid Creation Food Corporation and in Taipei and seize ‘5,829 cartons of juice (pineapple, honey peach, almond, mango and blueberry) suspected of being contaminated with DEHP‘.

Creation Food Corp. distribute food products from Jin Guoo Wang Food Company, a downstream of Yu Shen Chemical Co and confirmed supplier of DEHP contaminated products since May 19th.

Despite this, Creation Food Corp. continued to order and supply the Taiwanese product with DEHP tainted drinks despite being advised by Yu Shen Chemical Co that it’s products were tainted with DEHP.

Taiwanese government also raised the fine for selling, producing and manufacturing DEHP tainted products from $300,000 TWD ($9,750 AUD) to up to $6 million TWD ($195,000 AUD)

No, those are not typos. Previously you only faced a $10,000 AUD fine if you were found to be poisoning the Taiwanese public. Is there any wonder these companies have been manufacturing DEHP products for twenty years?

‘Jin Guo Wan’ Peach concentrate juice fails DEHP test in Singapore with sales suspended and the product recalled. The Jin Guo Wan brand of fruit concentrates are sold to bubble tea manufacturers to use and are not sold directly to the public.

June 4th 2011 – Malaysia confirms 10 Taiwanese products (Manggo Jelly Pudding, Seaweed De Vinegar Drink, Plum Active Vinegar Drink, Peach Health Vinegar Drink, Grape Vinegar Drink, Plum Extract Jelly, Sliced Cheese, Assorted Fruit Flavour Jelly, Ruby Red Grapefruit Drink and Orange Vinegar Drink) are not contaminated with DEHP.

Malaysia also receives confirmation from the Taiwanese government that previously exported foods from Triko Foods Co Ltd are contaminated with DEHP (Black Tea by Good Young Co Ltd, Lemon Juice Power A by Kakawa Enterprise Co Ltd, Fruit Jelly/Assorted (210g, 525g and 1.26kg), Bear Fruit Jelly Brown (580g), Bear Fruit Jelly Pink (580g), Fruit Jelly N.C (9.08kg) and Fruit Jelly Bear (9.08kg)).

Yu Shen Chemical Co (昱伸香料有限公司) president Lai Chun-chieh (賴俊傑) confesses that many of Taiwan’s bread, jam and pastry businesses were on his company’s client list. Taiwan’s bakeries are the latest industry to be drawn into the DEHP food scare.

Taiwan’s Department of Health is currently monitoring 345 businesses and is safety checking 855 food items.

Finally, Wei Chun Co was fined $30,000 TWD ($975 AUD) for continuing to sell and failing to recall DEHP tainted passion fruit and kumquat juices to ‘restaurants and shops‘.

June 5th 2011 – China raises banned Taiwanese product list from 22 as of last Wednesday to 812 products from 245 companies.

This is further increased to 66 products later in the day raising the total of banned Taiwanese products in China to 924.

June 6th 2011 – 3 Taiwanese bakery suppliers are named as potentially baking goods contaminated with DEHP (Yang Sheng Co. in Changhua County, Tung Chia Yong Yeh Co. in Taichung and Taipei’s Hau Liang Co).

The mango, strawberry, papaya, lemon, pineapple and orange jams in question are produced by these companies are then used by local bakeries to produce baked goods.

To illustrate the complexity and depth of DEHP contamination, Taichung City Bureau of Public Health Director Huang Mei-na uses DEHP contaminated food essences manufactured by Lai’s Yu Shen company.

These food essences are widely popular as they ‘made edibles aromatic and rich’. Yu Shen produced these food essences for the Dajia Company in Taichung, who then went on to supply a further five companies with tainted product.

Additionally both Heng Yi Trading Company Inc. (恆宜貿易股份有限公司) and Tung Chia Company (東甲公司) are named as distributors of DEHP tainted fruit flavours and syrups to 12 bakeries in 8 counties and cities.

Well known maker of traditional Taiwanese pastries, Kuo Yuan Ye Corporation (郭元益), is also drawn into the DEHP scandal after its fruit fruit juice powders were traced back to Yu Shen.

The end result?

The tainted food essences could have found their way into ‘fruit teas sold in both five-star hotels and roadside stalls, fruit juices sold in night markets, fruit-flavored bread and cakes, apple pies, ice creams, and fruit-flavored sodas‘.

Meanwhile several Taiwanese exported products are found to be DEHP free.

In Malaysia 10 Taiwanese food products are cleared of being contaminated with DEHP.

Premium White Milk Tea Drink and Finest Quality Milk Tea Drink with the Mine Shine brand; Tomato Drink by Red Gold Bank; Grape Seeds Drink, Multigrain Activate Tea and Vegetable and Fruit Drink by AGV; Spinach Noodle and Tomoshiraga Somen by Wu-Mu; Oat Biscuits by I Mei and Sweet Bean Sauce by Master are all cleared for continued import into Malaysia.

In the US, Aloe-vera beverage ‘ALŌ Drink’ is cleared of any DEHP contamination.

Finally the Taoyuan county government sent off 60 items to Taiwanese food manufacturer ‘I-mei’ for DEHP testing and between 30-40 percent of the items tested returned a positive DEHP result.

It should be noted that I-mei themselves and their 1,500 product line have been cleared of having any DEHP contaminaton.

The WHO issued a statement on Taiwan’s DEHP scare noting that

the industrial-use plasticizer DEHP can cause cancer and damage the reproductive system, but it is not immediately life-threatening.

So not catching cancer today is supposed to make me feel better?!

China has also been dragged into the DEHP scandal after Associate Professor Lin Chunhuong from South China Agricultural University ‘found DEHP in samples of Chinese-made instant noodles‘.

Lin and her team found DEHP in more than half of the samples, with some exceeding the national safety standard by up to one hundred times.

They believe the DEHP was leaked from the noodle’s plastic packaging

With palm oil being usually found in abundance in instant noodles, does anyone really believe DEHP substitution hasn’t probably been occurring in China too?

This could go a lot deeper then we think.

June 7th 2011 – Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) claims that only two out of more than 100 health products tested for DEHP failed regulatory requirements.

The HSA note that despite being found to contain DEHP, ‘Brand’s Alpha Tank Chewable Multi Vitamins & Minerals’ and ‘Naturext Immune+ Probiotic 50B’ did not have sufficient levels of the plasticizer to ‘ cause harm to health‘.

Both products have been voluntarily recalled.

June 8th 2011 – Rather then the confusing booklets, laminated a4 sheets and pamphlets certifing individual products as contamination free that are currently on display everywhere, the government starts issuing store-wide certificates.

These certificates are good for three months and certify that ‘ food and beverages sold inside (are) safe‘.

Following the expiration of the certificates, a ‘new round of inspections would be conducted and new labels issued‘.

In the US, a Washington DC a major Chinese supermarket initially pulled all Taiwanese drinks suspected of DEHP contamination off its shelved.

They later put the products back on display after ‘receiving a written statement from Taiwanese businessmen guaranteeing that the products “absolutely contained no plasticizers‘.

Taiwanese businessmen are the go-to authority for certifying products are DEHP free now?!

Hilariously the supermarket advised its customers that ‘to refrain from drinking them if they can and drink only a little if they want to drink the product‘.

‘Yes yes the drinks are contaminated but if you reaaaaally want to drink your Taiwanese fruit juices and sports drinks, then just drink a little. Ok?’

June 9th 2011 – Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥), Minister of Economic Affairs in Taiwan, estimates that Taiwan’s DEHP scandal will cost the food sector more than $10 billion TWD ($348 million USD).

This figure is based off an estimate that retailers will ‘see a 10 to 20 percent drop in revenue amid the crisis‘.

Meanwhile in Malaysia another two Taiwanese produced products have been recalled for suspected DEHP contamination.

Oriyen Nutri Grow (boy) Orange Drink Premix (330g) and Oriyen Nutri Grow (girl) Cranberry Drink Premix (330g) made by Jin Zhuan Lifesciences Enterprise Co Ltd have been taken off store shelves and samples have been sent off for further testing.

In Vietnam the government recalled the food products of nine different companies following findings of DEHP contamination.

The products include Possmei’s tapioca pearls, Brand’s calcium and vitamin tablets, Heysong’s Fruit House orange juice, Uni-President’s Pro Sweat sport and asparagus drinks, TaiYen’s collagen powder, Taiwan Yes water and Bio Chain’s Power-Lac nutrition powder.

June 11 2011 – Taiwanese KMT government approves creating an $10.82 billion TWD ($333 million USD) budget to fund a 3% pay rise for ‘government employees and some retired civil servants

In doing so, the government dismissed calls from the DPP opposition that the money would be better spent ‘to handle the aftermath of the plasticizer contamination of foods, for example to purchase testing equipment for plasticizers and to provide health check-ups for pregnant women and young people‘

No doubt this isn’t the first time the government has put its hip pocket before the health of the nation. Nor will it be the last.

The Taiwanese government also announced a mass testing of 16,000 food makers and removing from sale 20,000 food and beverages suspected of DEHP contamination.

Those products found to be contaiminated are then to be burned at various sites around Taiwan.

Uni-President boss Lin Tsang-sheng has bizarrely called on the public to ‘stop blaming “victimized” makers‘.

the executive urged the public not to focus their attention on the big companies who have been “victimized” by rogue suppliers who intentionally added toxic substances into their materials.

Lin likened these clients to people suffering from food poisoning who should not take the blame for the sickness.

Uh, so a company not checking it’s own products is the same as someone who contracts food poisoning?! Does Uni-President honestly expect us to believe that they and other companies have no duty of care to check that the final end product they supply the general public is not contaminated with toxic chemicals?!

Good one mate. The public don’t care where you sourced your dodgy materials from, at the end of the day it was Uni-President branded products people bought and rightly where the brunt of the blame is going to lie.

Uni-President is delusional if they think the public are going to support them in poisoning the Taiwanese public for two decades.

The Legislative Yuan succesfully passed an amendment yesterday raising the maximum fine for ‘manufacturers and sellers of toxic and hazardous foods‘ from $300,000 TWD ($10,425 USD) to $6 million TWD ($208,512 USD).

Additionally ‘those who knowingly make and sell the poisonous foods to make people sick will face a jail term of up to seven years, as well as maximum fines of up to NT$10 million‘.

No doubt the original appallingly low penalty was what spurred on companies to risk contaminating their products with DEHP in the first place.

Finally, not quite Taiwan DEHP news but still a somewhat related story, yesterday Taiwan’s Department of Health issued a statement that, despite 9-13.7ppm or 2mcg of DIDP plasticizer being found in children’s antibiotic Augmentin, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, that the drug was ‘not harmful

Sometime today (Saturday 11th June) however, the Department of Health has since announced that Augmentin is unsafe and ordered GlaxoSmithKline to issue a recall on the drug.

One day Taiwan’s Department of Health are telling the people products are ‘not harmful‘ and the next day recalling them. I’m sure actions like this are bolstering public confidence in the government’s handling of the DEHP scandal.

June 12 2011 – Singapore’s Health Science Authority (HSA) has cleared GlaxoSmithKline’s drug Augmentin as ‘safe for consumption‘.

The HSA has confirmed that ‘the formulations of Augmentin available in Taiwan are not available in Singapore’.

Seems like GlaxoSmithKline is fine with poisoning residents of Taiwan and Hong Kong, but not Singapore. I wonder how many other countries GlaxoSmithKline are complacently poisoning too?

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has recalled several Taiwanese products including Possmei’ tapioca pearls, ‘Brand’ calcium and vitamin tablets, ‘Heysong Fruit House’ orange juice, ‘Uni-President’ Pro Sweat sport and asparagus drinks, ‘TaiYen’ collagen powder, Taiwan’s ‘Yes’ water and ‘Bio Chain’ Power-Lac nutrition powder.

Meanwhile Borneo’s Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism has bluntly advised Bornean consumers to ‘stop buying food products from Taiwan‘ altogether.

Better safe than sorry I guess.

June 13 2011 – Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has found DEHP in flavoured syrup imported from Taiwan.

The syrup in question is ‘exported by Taiwan’s Ye Yen Gen. Co., Ltd‘ and is of the ‘red apple, grape and litchi (lychee?)‘ varieties.

Some candies imported from the Phillipines was also found to contain DEHP.

In China, Taiwanese company Jiangmen Goody’s Food Co, Ltd has had its tea powder recalled after tests confirmed the presence of DEHP.

Interestingly enough, the ‘raw materials were produced by a tea company in East China’s Zhejiang province‘. Presumably this tea company is Chinese so it seems Jiangmen Goody’s Food Co was either adding the DEHP during processing themselves or contracting the local tea company to do it.

Not sure what the implications of that are seeing as Jiangmen Goody’s Food Co seem to be operating offshore in China.

A ‘yeast enhancer produced by Taiwanese-funded Jhan Wang Food Co, Ltd‘ was also found to contain DEHP. Both companies are operating out of the Chinese city of Jianmen… and in an age of hyper competitiveness, if they’re both adding DEHP you can be sure they’re not the only ones doing it.

In HongKong, the Centre for Food Safety has banned the import of ‘ DrinkaZine Energy Watt Sports Drink’ from manufacturer Tai Hwa Oil Industrial Co, Ltd after it was found to contain DEHP.

The CFS has also found DEHP in ‘Chuang’s Square Cookies’ manufactured by Chuang’s King Tai Chang Food Co, Ltd and ‘Wei Lih “hand-made instant noodle” (roasted chicken flavour)’ manufactured by Wei Lih Food Industrial Co, Ltd.

Meanwhile on the prosecution front, Lai Chun-chieh, owner of Yu Shen Chemical Co. who have been largely implicated in supplying companies with DEHP tainted emulsifiers, was indicted yesterday on charges of ‘fraud and multiple violations of the Act Governing Food.

Prosecutors are asking Lai be fined $10 million TWD ($344,828 USD) and handed down a 25 year prison sentence. For their roles in the scandal, Lai’s son and wife are facing a 20 year sentence plus a fine of $7 million TWD ($242,886 USD).

The owner of the plasticizer company who sold Yu Shen Chemical co. DEHP knowing that it would be used in food, Pan Shu-lan is up for a 15 year sentence and $5 million TWD ($173,490 USD) fine.

Finally Yu Shen Chemical Co. and Pan’s company (whose name was not published) are each facing fines of $200 million TWD ($6.93 million USD) and $100 million TWD ($3.46 million USD) respectively.

June 17 2011 – Taiwan’s prosecutors are claiming that Yu Shen Chemical Co. owner, Lai Chun-chieh, ‘doesn’t regret what he has done and doesn’t make introspection. His attitude is not good.’

This accusation comes amidst claims that Lai also lied when police first interrogated him and follows a public apology issued by Lai, stating that he was ‘sorry for what (he’d) done and sorry for causing panic to the society.

Not entirely sure who to believe here. The guy that knowingly poisoned Taiwan for nearly thirty years with plastic or the guys responsible for prosecuting him.

Meanwhile over in the US there are reports claiming that the government has yet to advise any retailers ‘as to which (Taiwanese) products are safe to sell‘.

Apparently the FDA are not trusting the tests Taiwan has conducted with a ten foot pole. Instead, they’re ‘testing products to generate data upon which to make (their) own regulatory decisions, including guidance to businesses and the public’.

Until that happens, it’s simply up to retailers to police their own shelves of DEHP tainted products.

June 18 2011 – After what has been claimed to be the ‘biggest food inspection operation in the nation’s history‘, Taiwan’s Health Minister, Chiu Wen-ta, declared that food products in Taiwan should be relatively cleaner and safer‘.

At present, I believe no country in the world has cleaner and safer food products than Taiwan

Considering that just two months ago we were all happily chugging down plastic laced drinks and food, is this really the smartest thing to be saying?

Who knows what else Taiwan’s food and beverage industry is poisoning us with.

June 19 2011 – The Environmental Protection Administration of Taiwan (EPA) has commissioned a study into DEHP in Taiwan’s rivers.

The study ‘reported readings from more than 30 rivers across the nation over the past decade and showed that the amount of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) has grown steadily‘.

Local fish were found to have between ‘10 and several hundred parts per million of DEHP‘.

The source of the DEHP is being blamed on ‘domestic waste water‘.

Because of the large quantity of plastic appliances being used by the public, the levels of PAEs in the environment have increased dramatically, he said.

Couldn’t possibly be due to rogue industry too could it? Of course not.

Meanwhile in Malaysia another drink has been found to contain traces of DEHP. All sales of Chuang’s King Tai Chang Food Co. Ltd’s ‘Natural Beauty Fruit and Vegetable Powder’ in Malaysia have been stopped and the product is in recall.

June 20 2011 – Taiwanese produced chocolate bars and two minute noodle flavourings have both tested positive for DEHP in Macau, China.

Macau health authorities yesterday tested 1.88 parts per million (ppm) of the plasticizer DEHP in Taiwan-manufactured chocolate bars, just one week after the Hong Kong government found 8.7 ppm of DEHP in the chicken-flavored sesame oil seasoning of Wei Lih Co.’s ramen noodles (維力手打麵).

The finding comes just a day after the Department of Health announced that ‘as of June 17, there have been no new reports of more tainted products‘.

With Taiwanese products continuing to be tested overseas returning traces of DEHP, I can’t help but wonder if the local government is widely testing enough products in Taiwan or not. Surely Taiwan’s exports come under high scrutinity than what’s being sold to locals.

For example, a chocolate flavoured corn snack manufactured by Kuai Kuai Co was found to be contaminated with DEHP by macau’s Food Safety Coordination Group. The corn snack was subsequently pulled from Macau’s shelves and recalled.

However in Taiwan, the product is still available for purchase because the government will ‘not order the snack to be pulled from shelves in Taiwan simply based on the test results of the Macau government‘.

Forget preventative measures or the interest of public health, just keep on enjoying those plastic infused corn snacks folks!

Over in Australia, a Taiwanese produced asparagus juice has been recalled and taken off shelves. The juice was confirmed to have been contaminated with DEHP.

Unfortunately Food Standards Australia and New Zealand refused to release the brand name of the asparagus juice so consumers beware.

June 22 2011 – After inspecting over 700,000 packs of military rations, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has confirmed that the rations are contaminated with DEHP.

Interestingly, the companies making the rations are challenging the MND’s findings and are arguing that ‘their rations all passed related tests without being found to contain any plasticizers‘.

To settle the dispute, ‘The two sides have agreed to send the combat rations to the Metal Industries Research and Development Center for re-testing‘.

I wonder what the penalty is for poisoning Taiwan’s military is? Oh… and so much for having the DEHP scandal under control hey…

June 23 2011 – Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety has found DEHP in ‘King of Fruits (super brand)’ lychee pulp.

The King of Fruits lychee pulp is only sold at a catering level and is not available to consumers.

July 7 2011 – Four more Taiwanese products have been found to contain DEHP in Malaysia.

The products found to be tainted are ‘Top 1′ watermelon syrup’, ‘Crystal Sugar’ aloe and yam syrups and ‘Good Day’ mango jam.

Meanwhile in Taiwan Chen A-ho (陳阿和), owner of Taiwanese juice company Ging Kuo Wang (金果王), has been indicted on charges of ‘buying questionable clouding agents from Yu Shen Chemical Co and adding them to the drinks it produces‘.

Chen’s son and two employees were also arrested with prosecutors asking that Ging Kuo Wang be fined $30 million TWD ($1 million USD) and Chen himself fined $10 million TWD ($347,000 USD) and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

July 26 2011 – In Hong Kong samples of ‘peach red tea‘ and ‘lychee red tea‘ sold by ‘Guo Tze Barwere found to contain DEHP.

Test results showed that the peach red tea sample and the lychee red tea sample contained DEHP at levels of 7.9 parts per million (ppm) and 3.1 ppm respectively, exceeding the action level of 1.5 ppm adopted by the CFS.

July 27 2011 – Again in Hong Kong the tea store ‘City One Beverage’ was found to be selling DEHP contaminated lychee drinks.

Additionally ‘GH Assorted Fruits Dietary Fibre Pie‘ manufactured in Taiwan by ‘Shyang Shin Yuh Industrial Co, Ltd‘ was also found to contain DEHP.

October 18 2011 – From the Taipei Times,

The owners of two food companies involved in a tainted food scandal earlier this year were given jail sentences and fines for purposely providing false information to health authorities.

Chen Chun-jan (陳俊然) purchased a total of 1,500kg of plasticizers from major supplier Yu Shen Chemical Co in March with assistance from Chan Tse-yuan (詹澤遠). Chen then used the plasticizers as a cheaper alternative for clouding agent.

As a nationwide crackdown on retailers involved in the scandal began at the end of May, Chen used another identity to cheat the authorities by telling investigators he bought the plasticizers from a biotech company.

Chen (then) asked Chan and the accountant of his company to provide false purchase orders and related information.

Chen, who did not inform his customers even after he realized the toxic nature of the plasticizers, was sentenced to two years in prison and fined NT$1.2 million (US$39,900), while Chan was given a seven-month sentence and fined NT$20,000.

Two years in jail and a $40,000 fine for poisoning a nation. Is that what human life is really worth in Taiwan?

October 27 2011 – The Banciao District court has handed down a 13 year jail sentence to Chen Che-hsiung, owner of Pin Han Perfumery for ‘fraud, breaking food hygiene administrative regulations, and manufacturing and supplying products causing public health hazards‘.

Chen and his company

found to have supplied chemical plasticizers, commonly called clouding agents, as additives to companies offering processed food, bread, and beverage products.

The company’s major clients included leading food processors and retail chains like Uni-President Enterprises, which runs the 7-Eleven convenience stores, Yes Company which supplies bottled water, and Tsin Tsin Foods during the period from August 2005 to May 2011.

Chen’s wife, Wang Feng was also sentenced to 10 jears jail as she was Chen’s accountant and deemed an accomplice. Chen’s sons meanwhile were found not guilty because they claimed ‘they had no knowledge about the products being prohibited for use in food and drink items‘.

October 28 2011 – Taiwan’s ‘Consumer Foundation’ have announced they are launching a class action lawsuiton behalf of consumers against companies responsible for the food scare‘.

Consumers’ Foundation chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said the foundation, together with the Cabinet’s Consumer Protection Commission (CPC), has processed and settled about 2,000 complaints.

However, most dealers and consumers have yet to reach a consensus, and more than half of the cases, numbering in the thousands, remain unsettled, she said.

The foundation said it was preparing to gather volunteer lawyers to help consumers take the group complaint to court, adding that details on how to apply to join the group lawsuit would be announced next week.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see how it goes for them.

December 16 2011 – Uni-President, Taiwan’s largest food production company, is suing Yu Shen Chemical Co.

demanding a compensation of NT$145.83 million ($4.7 million USD) to cover its property and business reputation losses caused by using clouding agent contaminated with Yu Shen’s toxic plasticizers.

At first I was a bit skeptical of the case figuring that on some level Uni-President should have themselves picked up the abnormal levels of DEHP via internal quality control and testing, but Uni-President appear to be claiming ignorance of DEHP contamination.

In addition to their civil damages lawsuit, the company

also filed a criminal prosecution against Lai Chun-chieh, owner of Yu Shen based in Changhua, central Taiwan, his wife Chien Ling-yuan and Chien’s brother Chien Chun-heng on charges of fraud.

This unfortunately was knocked back by the Changhua District Court though on the grounds that ‘Chien Chun-heng was already proved to be not guilty in an earlier ruling by the same district court‘.

This despite the fact that ‘Yu Shen’s Lai was sentenced to 18 years in jail for his multiple violations of the food safety law‘.

One would think if his wife was found innocent of the fraud charge, then fair enough – but is that any reason to not put on trial her husband and son? As far as I know they haven’t been found innocent of fraud so what’s with presuming their innocent of fraud just because Lai’s wife was found to be?

Quite obviously either Uni-President knowingly accepted DEHP tainted product or Lai and Yu Shen supplied it to them via fraud. A criminal lawsuit on charges of fraud would be a perfect way to settle this one way or another.

Not good enough Changhua District Court, not by a long shot.

January 11 2012 – China has decided to lift it’s ban on 877 Taiwan-made food products as of Tuesday 10th January, 2012.

This means that

only Singapore and Malaysia still limit imports of the products from Taiwan.

However, the Malaysian government has said it will consider lifting the ban if no Taiwanese products are found to contain plasticizer before Feb. 4.

Looks like Taiwan is almost ready to put this whole sorry DEHP food chapter behind them… well, at least until the next food contamination scare surfaces.

February 18th 2012 – Malaysia are set to drop their restrictions on food imports from Taiwan.

The Malaysian government notified Taipei on Thursday that it will lift the border control on 11 categories of Taiwan-made food items starting March 1, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

The control on biscuits and fruit drinks will remain for a little longer until March 16, the CNA said.

With Singapore already having announced the removal of restrictions to take place in March, I believe Malaysia are the last Asian country to announce the removal of restrictions on food imports from Taiwan.

March 17th 2012 – After announcing a class-action lawsuit last October, the Consumers’ Foundation in Taipei have filed suit in Banciao.

Although the group mentioned thousands of cases when they first announced their plans last year, the final number is just 568. The compensation money they are asking for though is no small chump change:

The foundation filed the complaint on World Consumer Rights Day on behalf of 568 consumers (and) are seeking NT$7.87 billion (US$266 million) in compensation.

A total of 143 people are seeking damages from BioChain Biotech, a health supplement manufacturer, while Taiwan’s largest convenience store chain 7-Eleven is being asked to pay NT$1.5 billion for selling plasticizer-tainted food, the foundation said.

7.78 billion divided by 568 consumers is a whopping 2.64 million each ($89,500 USD). Considering that that consumers island-wide consumed the products, it’ll be interesting to see where this lawsuit goes.

21st March 2012 – Chen Che-hsiung (陳哲雄) and wife Wang Fen (王粉), owners of Pin Han Perfumery Co were yesterday sentenced to 13 and 11 years jail respectively.

The pair were charged for ‘for adding toxic plasticizers to clouding agents and selling them to food and beverage producers‘ and found guilty.

Che-hsiung’s lawyer ‘asked the court to suspend the jail term and grant bail, as Chen is suffering from cancer‘, however it’s unclear if this happened or not.

Personally I find it a little rich to ask for sympathy when you’ve spent the last six years poisoning a nation with plasticizer.

Cancer schmancer, let the fucker rot in jail!

27th March 2012 – Here we go again!

After a plasticizer food scare in May last year, 10 more products have been found to contain excessive levels of plasticizers, Taipei City’s food and drug division said yesterday.

The 10 new products that were found to have excessive levels were pineapple sauce from Shih Hung Foodstuffs Co, containing 16.99 parts per million (ppm) of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP); peach juice from Trojan Corp, containing 48ppm of DEHP and 41.5ppm of diisononyl phthalate (DINP); vegan Sa Cha sauce with 342.9ppm of DINP; Santa Cruz’s “100% organic lemon juice” with 7.2ppm of diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP); an infant diet probiotic enzyme product from Liang Chun International Co with 159.7ppm of DEHP and 14.8ppm of DINP; Guangming pills from Wellslifes Biotech Co with 12.7ppm of DEHP; Huiyo food capsules from NatureWise Biotech & Medicals Corp with 24.1ppm of DEHP and 39.5ppm of DIDP; tuna fish oil capsules from Hsu Yin Co with 31.4ppm of DEHP; Toona sinensis sauce with 1,545.6ppm of DINP; and mushroom sauce from Cheng Tai Soysauce Foodstuffs Co with 1,944.2ppm of DINP.

Liang Chun International Co, who produce the ‘infant diet probiotic enzyme’ product on the list were fined $30,000 TWD ($1,000 USD) as a result of the DEHP detection.

Seriously… poisoning babies with plastic in Taiwan is apparently only worth a $1000 fine.

Oh and turns out DEHP plasticizer is the new lead:

he Consumers’ Foundation (CF, 消基會) found that five out of 20 sampled bath toys contained excessive plasticizer chemicals that could be harmful to one’s health.

The worst offender was a twelve-pack of ducklings by Yi Fa Toys (一發洋行有限公司), which exceeded the national safety limit (0.1 percent) for plasticizers by 381 times.

CF found that a quarter of bath toys exceeded the safety limit, in a random sampling of 20 products sold in local toy stores, supermarkets, department stores, and online retailers.

Greater Taipei-based Yi Fa Toys manufactures a 12-pack of rubber ducklings (“鴨子十二只裝”) that has a DEHP content of 36.05 percent and DBP content of 2.01 percent.

That’s a plasticizer content of nearly 38.1 percent, or 381 times the safety limit.

I wonder just how little these companies think of Taiwanese infants and children? No wonder the bloody birth rate is so low – better to just not have children rather than have them ingesting plastic left right and centre.

Footnote: I’ll continue to update this article as the story develops. In the meantime, I’d strongly advise avoiding foods like syrups, jams, sports drinks and juices unless you’re buying them from outlets clearly displaying certification that they are DEHP free.

If you’ve got a kitchen I’d probably be turfing stuff out too. DEHP won’t instantly kill you but I think we can all agree ingesting plasticizer isn’t in your best interests.