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May 29, 2013

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Taiwan stores in city deny using maleic acid

TWO Taiwanese beverage and desserts chain stores in the city have refuted claims that their products are laced with the poisonous maleic acid that led to the widespread recall of their starch-based products.

They said their products did not contain toxic additives and their materials were purchased in Chinese mainland.

The Meet Fresh (Xian Yu Xian) stores in Shanghai showed reports from testing agencies which revealed their products were free of maleic acid, while the Huaihai Road store of Yu Gui Ren said it bought its starch from Gansu Province.

The Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau said maleic acid is not included in checks done on the national standard. It said it is not an additive that is usually used in manufacturing food products.

"We will pay close attention to the local market and follow its development, and all our tests so far are based on national standard," said Shen Weimin, deputy director of the bureau.

The additive is similar to plasticizer, which has been added into the standard after recent scandals. Shen said local authorities may expand the index in their checks.

But maleic acid is widely available online as food additives on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, and it could be purchased from any food additive companies.

It costs at about 20 yuan (US$3.2) per kilogram. Standard starch costs four to six times of the toxic substance.

A worker at the Tuoxin Food Additive Co Ltd in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, said the company sells the substance and it can be added into food.

Maleic acid can add viscosity and elasticity in taste, but long term consumption of high levels of maleic acid can result in kidney damage. Food watchdog in Taiwan has so far recalled and sealed 206 tons of starch products that were found to have contained maleic acid.


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