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Nearly 30% dried, pickled foods fail safety inspections

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Nearly 30 percent of dried fruit and pickled vegetables on the market do not meet food safety standards, as they contain excessive levels of additives, a Taipei City health official said Monday.

The Taipei City Government Department of Health recently conducted random inspections of 97 dried fruit and pickled and dehydrated vegetable products sold in hypermarkets, traditional markets and the Dihua Street Commercial Circle in Taipei City, said Chiang Yu-mei, director of the department's Food and Drug Division.

Some 26 of the products, or 26.8 percent, failed to pass the food safety tests, she added.

In addition, it was found that 11 of the products were improperly labeled, she said.

In the tests of the dried fruits, it was found that 17 of the 51 samples -- or 33 percent -- did not meet food safety standards, as most of them contained excessive amounts of artificial sweetener or cyclamate, according to Chiang.

One of the samples sold at a dried food store in Taipei and produced by a manufacturer in Changhua County was found to contain cyclamate levels 20 times higher than the permissible amount, she added.

Consumption of too much artificial sweetener may cause thirst, intestinal discomfort, nausea, or even vomiting, while long-term ingestion of cyclamate could lead to bladder cancer, Chiang warned.

The department also determined that nine of the 35 pickled vegetable samples failed to meet safety standards, as most of them contained excessive levels of benzoic acid. Ingestion of high levels of the chemical preservative could affect liver and kidney functions.

In the case of five manufacturers, it was the second consecutive year that their products failed to meet food safety standards, therefore, the city's health department will ask them to pull the products from store shelves, according to Chiang.

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