COCA-COLA insisted yesterday that their products were safe to drink after Taiwan banned the import of a batch of Coke Zero ingredients from Shanghai because of a banned preservative.
The use of methyl para-hydroxybenzoate is prohibited in Taiwan because it may lead to stomach upsets and raise female hormone levels, the Legal Evening News reported.
The Coca-Cola Co, however, said the preservative was permitted on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and the United States. “The preservative is widely used as acceptable and safe additive in food and drink, but Taiwan’s laws and regulations do not permit their use in carbonated beverages,” the company said in a statement released to Shanghai Daily yesterday.
According to the Hong Kong Commercial Daily, Coca-Cola Taiwan Co said the batch of Coke Zero ingredients was transported to Taiwan “by mistake.” The company said its products in Taiwan didn’t use the preservative.
The newspaper said Taiwan’s health authority had also detected the overuse of benzoic acid and hexadienic acid as preservatives in the batch of ingredients, chemicals that may cause eye and skin irritation.
As a result, the authority told the newspaper they would carry out random checks on 20 percent of imported products in future, compared to the 5 percent previously.
The batch of ingredients which was banned was for drinks in fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s, but would not be used in bottled drinks sold in local markets, Coca-Cola said. McDonald’s officials couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.
Fan Zhihong, associate professor of China Agricultural University, told the Legal Evening News that the Chinese mainland allows a maximum of 1 gram of such preservative to be used in every kilogram of drink.
But 2.062 grams of the preservative have been detected per kilogram of the Coke Zero ingredients in Taiwan, the newspaper said.
Zhai Mei, a Coca-Cola Co official, said the Taiwan sample was concentrated ingredients, and the percentage of the preservative would be much lower when diluted. [as usual the final paragraph to make you feel good :)]