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The Investigation and Penalty Regarding the Case of ‘Illegal Usage of Dimethyl Yellow on Dried Tofu’

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2014-12-17
  • Last Updated:2017-01-11

With regard to the case of Chien Hsin Enterprise’s illegal use of dimethyl yellow, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and various county and city health bureaus continue their tracking of the distribution of downstream products and removal of these products from shelves. According to reports of county and city health bureaus, as of 10 a.m. on December 17, 2014, a total of 54 officers were dispatched to conduct 155 inspections (with 24 inspections on vendors/distributors, 117 inspections on hypermarkets/supermarkets/convenience stores, and 14 inspections on food manufacturing and processing businesses); problematic products that link to the use of dimethyl yellow were removed from shelves, with 2311 kg recalled; also, the Department of Health under Tainan City Government updated the number of downstream businesses of Chien Hsin Enterprise to 12. 

During the FDA’s examination of products in this case, among the specimens that were tested positive, dried tofu products were detected within a range of 2.1 ~ 63.6 ppb (parts per billion) of dimethyl yellow, a coloring not allowed to be used in our country. Although studies have shown that dimethyl yellow might cause cancer in experimental animals, there is not enough evidence to confirm its impact on human health from diet intake. 

According to Subparagraph 10, Paragraph 1, Article 15 of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (AGFSS), amended in accordance with the presidential decree published on December 10, 2014, food with additives that are not approved by the central competent authority shall not be manufactured, sold, or publicly displayed; offenders are subject to a fine of NT$60,000 to NT$200 million in accordance with Article 44 of the same Act, and can be sentenced to less than 7 years of imprisonment with a fine of less than NT$80 million under the terms of Article 49 of the same Act. The FDA once again urged soybean product manufacturers that apply defoamers to discontinue their usage immediately if they are using ‘Chien Hsin soybean product emulsifier’, and return the elements to their original vendors. In addition, they should report the name, specification, batch number, expiration date, and quantity of their manufactured products to governing health bureaus before 24:00 o’clock on December 17, 2014, and take the initiative to recall these products and remove them from shelves before December 20. If they are found to use illegal food additives in manufacturing related products again, they shall be heavily penalized. 

The newly amended AGFSS requires online registration of all businesses in food industry; manufacturers and importers of food additives should complete their registration by May 1, 2014, so that the Ministry can get hold of business and product information timely and effectively. During the incident of illegal addition of dimethyl yellow to dried tofu, the information constructed in the registration system has provided ‘fast, accurate and easy-to-check’ advantages for the Ministry to get hold of the incident information immediately, and trace the related raw materials for sampling and testing, in order to discover the misbehavior of illegal addition at the source. In addition, the new Act requires that food additive businesses should register on the track and trace system by February 5, 2015, providing information of their suppliers and distributors of raw materials, semi-finished and finished products, in order to further strengthen the management and response to occurrences of food safety incidents in the future.