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May 23, 2017

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Company recalls products with China-made leavening agent

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Hunya Foods Co. announced yesterday that it has recalled all its products containing the leavening agent ammonium bicarbonate imported by Sesoda Corp.

The announcement came after the Department of Health (DOH) revealed at a news conference Saturday that ammonium bicarbonate imported by Sesoda from the Hebei Province-based Huaer Chemical Co. was found to be tainted with melamine. The department said that it had stopped the distribution of the contaminated product around Taiwan and would soon seize all ammonium bicarbonate imported from the mainland Chinese company.

Kuo Cheng-er, a spokesman for Hunya, one of Taiwan's leading food manufacturers, said that the products have been removed from store shelves and will be destroyed in line with the DOH's decision.

Noting that ammonium bicarbonate has been used in the baked goods industry in Taiwan for years with the DOH's consent, Kuo said that this case is "not a problem related to the ingredient itself, but instead the source of the ingredient."

Kuo said that as melamine — an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastic products — is much more expensive than ammonium bicarbonate, it would not make sense for food manufacturers to add it as a way of illicitly cutting costs. The ammonium bicarbonate in question was therefore probably inadvertently contaminated during the production process, he said, adding that the Chinese company is now investigating the source of the contamination.

Kuo said that following the recall, Hunya will revise the formula for making the products in question before restocking store shelves, in order to allay people's concerns. This is expected to cost the company between NT$20 million (US$615,000) and NT$30 million (per year), he added.

The spokesman stressed that the company views food safety as being of the highest importance, noting that it has received FGMP, HACCP, ISO9001 and ISO14001 certifications from the government.

According to Kuo,the unfolding melamine scandal has led regulators, businesses and the general public to re-evaluate food safety testing and standards, and he expressed the hope that this will be a positive development for the industry.

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