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Plasticizer found in mainland plant extract

The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday announced that it was adopting stringent measures to prevent similarly contaminated products from entering the country, after finding the plasticizer DIBP in a plant extract imported from China,

A shipment of ginger powder imported to Taiwan from Hebo Natural Products Limited (禾博天然產物有限公司) in June 2008 was found to contain DIBP, DOH said in a press release. A subsequent spot check on other products from the Shaanxi-based company revealed that its soya bean extract and olive leaf extract, both in powder form, were contaminated with DIBP and DBP. DBP was not one of the eight plasticizers previously included among those being monitored by the government.

Concentration of DIBP in the ginger extract powder was found to be 33,100 parts per million (ppm), that of DIBP in the soya bean extract powder, 41 ppm, and that of DIBP and DBP in the olive leaf extract powder, 768 ppm and 441 ppm, respectively.

From now on, the company will be required to produce documents from the relevant mainland China authorities certifying that its exports to Taiwan contain no plasticizers before such shipments can be admitted, the DOH press release says.

Extracts from plants and herbs, whether in powder or liquid form, as long as they are made in China, will be subject to strict inspection by the DOH's Food and Drug Administration before they can be brought into the country.

Of the 50 kg of contaminated ginger powder imported by Hui Yang Company (輝陽公司), only 10.4 kg have been sold, some of it to a Taipei individual, while the rest have gone to Ta Chien Company (達健公司) in Taichung, according to the press release.

The capsules made from the contaminated ginger powder and the unused part at Ta Chien — the products manufactured by the Taipei individual on a trial basis — and the olive leaf extract powder and soya bean extract powder the He Hsin Company (禾鑫公司) bought from Hebo have all been impounded.

No plasticizers were found in similar products manufactured by other mainland Chinese producers, the press release says.

Hebo, headquartered in Xian, Shaanxi's provincial capital, claims it's the largest GMP-certified producer of plant extracts in western China. It also says it is Kosher-certified, calling its production facilities and equipment “advanced”and its methods “scientific.”

The company, capitalized at 50 million yuan and employing a work force of 100, was founded in 2005.

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