Consumers in US react
to Taiwan’s tainted foodstuffs
WEARIED US SHOPPERS: Opinions of Taiwanese
brands began changing when plasticizer turned up in everything from fruit jelly
to sports beverages
By Chris Fuchs / Contributing reporter in NEW YORK
For decades, three simple words — Made in Taiwan — stamped on canned and
packaged food items sold in Chinese supermarkets in the US conveyed a guarantee
of quality and excellence, but in the wake of Taiwan’s widening food scandal,
Chinese and Taiwanese-Americans living in New York, home to the largest overseas
Chinese population in the US, say they are thinking twice about what they put in
their shopping baskets.
As of yesterday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not yet issued
any recalls for any products linked to Taiwan’s food safety scare, including
those manufactured by Wei Chuan Food Corp (味全), Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co
(大統長基), Formosa Oilseed Processing Co (福懋) and Flavor Full Foods (富味鄉),
according to the agency’s Web site.
When asked about how the FDA issues recalls for potentially harmful
FDA-regulated products, an agency spokeswoman, Juli Ann Putnam, referred to the
FDA’s Web site, which said that “recalls are almost always voluntary” and that
“only in rare cases will the FDA request a recall.”
Many shoppers interviewed last weekend in New York said they began changing
their opinion about made-in-Taiwan brands in 2011, when the plasticizer
di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate was found in emulsifying additives used in everything
from sports beverages to fruit jelly.
Regarded as a cheap substitute for palm oil, plasticizers have been linked to
developmental problems in children and are illegal in foodstuffs.
Besides keeping straight the growing number of companies being added to the
made-in-Taiwan blacklist, wearied Chinese and Taiwanese-American shoppers
pointed out that they also face another challenge that emerged before the
integrity of Taiwanese food items had been called into question — making sure
that the brands they purchase are actually the real thing.
For full report, see Tainted by scandal in features section.