Food Scare Prompts Chinese Officials to Detain Factory Owner

June 2, 2011
Owner of Yuyan Food Co. suspected of mixing the industrial chemical DEHP into food additives.

Police in southern China have detained a factory owner suspected of mixing an industrial chemical used to soften plastics into food additives, state media reported on Friday.

The news comes a day after China, South Korea and the Philippines banned imports of certain food and drink products from Taiwan amid fears of contamination with the same chemical, known as DEHP.

Officers raided the Yuyan Food Co. factory in Dongguang City, Guangdong province, on Wednesday, arresting the owner and seizing six tons of food additives, Xinhua news agency reported.

Xinhua said the initial investigation suggested Yuyan Food, which produces around 3 tons of food additives per month -- mostly for sale within Guangdong -- may have imported raw materials contaminated with DEHP from Taiwan.

Experts say DEHP can cause hormone problems in children, and this week Taiwan began an inspection drive to ensure that sports drinks, juices and other products were not tainted with DEHP after raising the alarm on May 24 with a major recall.

Taiwanese authorities have arrested the owners of two companies that used DEHP rather than more expensive palm oil in products supplied to hundreds of local drinks makers.

As of Thursday evening, mainland importers had recalled more than 4,800 DEHP-contaminated sports drinks from Taiwan, Xinhua said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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