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FDA probes animal byproducts in veggie foods

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said that 15 out of 423 tested veggie food products were found to contain animal-derived components in the three-year investigation of veggie food products on the market.

To guarantee the rights of vegetarians, the FDA has reinforced its investigation into veggie food products in recent years. According to the FDA, among the 423 veggie products it examined, 15 items failed to meet standards. In addition, 11 of the disqualified items are veggie balls, which are usually used in hotpot cuisine.

Lin Shiu-yang (林旭陽), section chief of the Division of Research and Analysis at the FDA, pointed out that although some manufacturers mistakenly added animal-derived components from fish, chicken or pork to their products, there are still some others who do so intentionally to enhance the flavor.

Lin pointed out that the FDA traces the DNA signatures in these products through methods from molecular biotechnology, which helps them detect if the products are made with animal-derived components.

According to Lin, the percentage of impure veggie products people can find on the market has been reduced from 25 percent in 2004 to less than 5 percent in recent years. This shows that the measures are effective in dealing with the issue. The FDA will continue to follow up on veggie balls and other veggie hotpot products in particular.

The FDA also reminded manufacturers that all products that claim to be vegetarian should have clear labeling telling the customer if the product is suitable for “strict vegetarians/vegans,” “ovo vegetarians,” “lacto vegetarians” or “lacto-ovo vegetarians.”

“If a veggie product is found to be impure, the local Department of Health will immediately order the manufacturers to remove the questionable product from the market and demand improvement based on the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation,” added Lin.

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