Tainted spices and medicine dis­cov­ered: pros­e­cu­tors


Food com­pa­nies and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal fac­to­ries in Cen­tral Tai­wan were raided and dis­cov­ered pos­sess­ing prod­ucts made with mag­ne­sium car­bon­ate for industrial use ( ), re­ported the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA, ) yes­ter­day.

The Changhua Dis­trict Pros­e­cu­tors’ Of­fice ( ) and lo­cal health bureau stormed Taichung’s I Hs­ing Trade Com­pany ( ), and in the process dis­cov­ered the pres­ence of tainted goods as well as their dis­tri­bu­tion des­ti­na­tions.

Af­fected spice prod­ucts in­clude pep­per salt, ground pep­per, curry pow­der and ed­i­ble red food col­or­ing, rang­ing from house­hold to com­mer­cial use, FDA South Man­age­ment Cen­ter Act­ing Direc­tor Liu Fang­ming ( ) said.

Liu con­firmed I Hs­ing had been man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­ucts us­ing industrial mag­ne­sium car­bon­ate from 2012 to 2014, and re­ported the com­pany had be­gun busi­ness deal­ings with Chin Hs­ing Hang Fac­tory ( ), Chin Hs­ing Com­pany ( ) and Chen Ching Fac­tory (

) since 2003. Of­fi­cials be­lieve that I Hs­ing wanted to ben­e­fit from the price dif­fer­ence by sell­ing industrial mag­ne­sium car­bon­ate rather than prod­ucts made with food-grade mag­ne­sium car­bon­ate.

Chin Hs­ing Hang Fac­tory had pro­duced 21 prod­ucts, af­fect­ing at least 200 down­stream ven­dors in 15 cities and coun­ties.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­ered 10 prod­ucts be­ing dis­trib­uted by Chin Hs­ing Com­pany, which sup­plied 70 down­stream ven­dors in 16 cities and coun­ties. Chen Ching Fac­tory pro- duced eight items, dis­tribut­ing them to 11 ven­dors in three cities and coun­ties.

The three man­u­fac­tur­ers were or­dered to cease the dis­tri­bu­tion of all prob­lem­atic prod­ucts, the Health Bureau said. Of­fi­cials said in­ves­ti­ga­tors are be­gin­ning to track down­stream ven­dors in the af­fected ar­eas. Com­pa­nies could be fined NT$30,000 to NT$3 mil­lion ac­cord­ing to the Act Gov­ern­ing Food Safety and San­i­ta­tion ( ).

Tainted Drugs and Medicine

Re­ports in­di­cate that phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies have also used industrial mag­ne­sium car­bon­ate in pro­duc­ing medicine as well as tal­cum pow­der ( ) and stom­ach pow­der, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials in Changhua. Au­thor­i­ties have seized stock­piles of prob­lem­atic medicine and will con­duct ex­am­i­na­tions. Pen- al­ties will be fi­nal­ized once re­sults come out.

The FDA’s Medic­i­nal Prod­ucts Di­vi­sion Deputy Su­per­vi­sor Tai Hsue­hyung ( ) said they are still not clear about how many prod­ucts have used industrial mag­ne­sium car­bon­ate, or which hos­pi­tals and clin­ics are uti­liz­ing such prob­lem­atic medicine. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion will pro­ceed ac­cord­ing to the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals Af­fairs Act ( ).

Linkou Chang Gung Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal Di­vi­sion of Clin­i­cal Tox­i­col­ogy ( ) Direc­tor Yen Tsung-hai ( ) said food­grade mag­ne­sium car­bon­ate is low in tox­i­c­ity, and is quickly me­tab­o­lized by the body. Yet, the in­gre­di­ents in industrial mag­ne­sium car­bon­ate are not en­tirely pure, which could in­clude heavy met­als residue that could be harm­ful to one’s health, Yen said.

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