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Korea bans some food imports from Taiwan amid safety concerns

Korea's food safety watchdog said Wednesday that it banned imports of Taiwanese products suspected of containing an environmental hormone, following reports that some Taiwanese firms are under investigation for using the potentially cancer-causing material.

   The temporary import ban will be applied to beverage products, jams, syrups, jellies and other food products suspected of containing DEHP, according to the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA). It did not specify the name of the companies that produced the goods.

   The move came immediately after the watchdog said that of 220 Taiwanese companies under investigation by its government for selling products containing the chemical additive that potentially poses serious health risks to human bodies, four were found to have sold their goods here.

   The four are Goangyuan Biochemistry Technology Company, King Car, Vedan Enterprise Corporation and Yung Shin Pharm Industry, the watchdog said. The imported products include processed foods, coffee, health supplements and additives.

   Those products, however, are not included in the list of goods being investigated in Taiwan for containing the environmental hormone. The KFDA said it plans to dispatch its personnel to importers of those products for investigation.

   DEHP is a chemical additive that serves as an emulsifier to make plastic soft. If used in foods, it can create emulsions in fruit jelly, yogurt mix powder, juices and drinks softer.

   The material was reportedly used among some Taiwanese food manufacturers as a substitute for more expensive palm oil as they sought to reduce production costs. Some experts say that it may also cause cancer in humans. (Yonhap News)