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May 23, 2017

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Owner of DEHP-selling plant has property seized

TAIPEI -- Prosecutors have seized bank accounts and property belonging to the owner of the chemical company at the center of a food additive scare in Taiwan, a Ministry of Justice official said Monday.

Lin Jinn-tsun, deputy director of the ministry's Department of Prosecutorial Office, said prosecutors have seized five accounts and three properties belonging to Lai Chun-chieh, owner of Yu Shen Chemical Co., and his wife.

The company is under fire for selling clouding agents — additives that make processed foods and beverages appear more appealing or sophisticated — containing the toxic plasticizer DEHP to food ingredient makers around Taiwan.

"Since the plasticizer scandal, requests by prosecutors to detain three people — one from Yu Shen and two from Pin Han Perfumery Co. — have been approved. Another person has been released on bail, but will be banned from leaving the country," Lin said.

Pin Han was the second company found to have used a plasticizer in its clouding agent.

Prosecutors will continue their investigation to see if Yu Shen has other accounts, and they have begun to seize accounts related to Pin Han.

"To prevent the alleged defendants from hiding their assets, the prosecutors have seized related accounts and real estate," Lin said, at a news conference convened by George Hsieh, legislative whip of the ruling Kuomintang, and colleague Lin Te-fu.

Hsiao Mei-ling, deputy minister of the Department of Health (DOH), said on the same occasion that the DOH has set strict criteria for the content of plasticizers in cosmetics.

She was responding to a question from Hsieh on other products that may contain plasticizers, such as nail polish, baby oil, hair gel and cleaning products.

She said Taiwan has referred to standards in other countries to set criteria, and any products entering Taiwan will have to meet the regulations.

The government's criteria will be much stricter than the minimum allowable doses, Hsiao stressed.

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