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September 23, 2017

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More contaminated radish uncovered in Yilan

Yilan, Taiwan -- More shipments of preserved Chinese radish contaminated with formalin or formaldehyde were uncovered around Taiwan, including six cases in Yilan County.

Health officials of the northeastern county said yesterday they collected 21 samples from different vendors on the market after reports that more than 10,000 metric tons of dried Chinese radish contaminated with formalin were recently seized by authorities in Yunlin County of southwestern Taiwan.

Among the samples, six shipments amounting to 553 kilograms were detected to be adulterated with the chemical banned for use in food items.

After tracing the supply sources, staff at the health bureau found the affected products were resold from Taoyuan County with an original supply of 136 kg coming from Yunlin and 402 kg from central Taichung area.

The officials have confiscated the products for destruction.

Preserved radish is often used in meal boxes sold in Taiwan. The demand customarily surges for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival, which takes place May 5 on the traditional Chinese calendar and falls on next Thursday, May 28 this year

The product is commonly used as an ingredient for zhongzi — the sticky rice dumplings wrapped with large bamboo leaves — for the festival.

But overall sales of the product have recently declined steeply by half compared with the same period of last year after the exposure of the contaminated product.

Liu Yi-lian, Yilan health bureau director, said consumers should inspect both the coloring and flavor when purchasing the food item.

He said buyers should procure from stores and suppliers with better reputation because they provide full information concerning names and contact of manufacturers on product labels.

Consumers should also avoid items with whitening color that could be caused by bleaching process of chemicals.

Another practical approach is to check product flavor and find if it has a acerbic or pungent smell yielded by certain chemicals, Liu added.

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