Malaysia’s Health Ministry has since May 28 suspended the importation of 11 food products from some food manufacturing companies in Taiwan (China), including tapioca starch balls or pearls used in making Bubble Tea because they were reported to contain maleic acid.
The 11 products include tapioca balls produced by Sunright Foods Corporation, tapioca starch (Hong Kai Foods Co), black tapioca pearls (Possmei International Co Ltd), Indica rice powder (Sunright Foods Corporation), tapioca pearls (Shang Wang), tapioca starch balls (Grand Chainly Enterprises Co Ltd), tapioca pearls (Ting Long), noodles (Sin Chi Zhi Miang Chang), tapioca pearls (An Si Li) and tapioca pearls white and black (Tapioca Foods Company Ltd).
The ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division senior director Noraini Mohd Othman said that the use of maleic acid in food products was prohibited under the Food Regulations 1985 as the long-term or high-level consumption of the item could cause kidney damage.
She said the tapioca starch balls or pearls produced by several companies in Taiwan have been contaminated with maleic acid, which has also been detected to be present in other food products.
According to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, the Food and Drug Administration Taiwan is taking control action in tackling the issue.
Noraini said that the Health Ministry had also held discussions with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kuala Lumpur to obtain more information on the situation and would continue to monitor food products imported from Taiwan.
She said the media had reported that maleic acid was found in the tapioca balls and tapioca pearls produced by Sunright Foods Corporation of Taiwan but the ministry found no importation of this product into Malaysia.
The ministry would take the action of detaining, testing and removing food products if the importers failed to produce the lab analysis certificate that was recognised by the Food and Drug Administration Taiwan, as confirmation that the products were free of maleic acid.
She urged importers, distributors and sellers of such contaminated products to immediately withdraw these products from the market and for the industries using these products to stop the practice.
Maleic acid, a colourless crystalline (sugar or sand-like) material with a faint acid odour, is usually used in textile processing and as an oil and fat preservative, according to Malaysia’s National News Agency (Bernama)./.
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