Bubble tea ingredients exported to UK may contain poisonous additive

News Desk in Taipei/The China Post

Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Bubble tea ingredients exported from Taiwan to the United Kingdom join a long list of products in a massive Department of Health crackdown suspected to be tainted with a dangerous plasticizer. The Taiwanese specialty has emerged as a wildly popular drink in the UK.

The latest DOH investigation found that the food additive, known as Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, known as DEHP, has been distributed in products from 46 different companies, although a major bubble tea ingredient exporter denies that theirs is one.

So far, the company identified as the main source spreading the food additive is Yu Shen Company, a long-term manufacturer of the additive.

Possmei International Co., a producer of tea and tapioca ingredients bound for the U.K., said there is no evidence that their materials have been tainted with the carcinogenic DEHP. Possmei supplies key ingredients to Bubbleology, a London beverage shop opened by businessman Assad Khan that made the news earlier this year.

A Possmei spokesperson claimed their products do not contain additives manufactured by Yu Shen Company. However, to ensure consumer safety following the DOH announcement, Possmei has voluntarily sent product samples to leading inspection company SGS Taiwan for testing.

Meanwhile, Possmei has informed downstream suppliers to remove their products from the market and suspend operations until test results are conclusive. Results are expected today.

Possmei said that if traces of the food additive are found in current Bubbleology products, the source would be an upstream supplier or manufacturer with which the company has no direct contact.

Further, Kahn would currently be using bubble tea ingredients that have already undergone testing, which means U.K. customers have nothing to worry about, the company spokesperson said.

If the most recent shipment is found to contain DEHP, Kahn has been instructed to destroy it immediately, he added.

The wave of DEHP-tainted products has the DOH struggling to rein in makers of beverages and foodstuffs that may have unwittingly used the Yu Shen Company food additives. The department has already ordered both the removal of any contaminated products and refunds for consumers. All contaminated products are in the process of being impounded and destroyed.

According to a local news source, this is the world's first case of foods and beverages being laced with DEHP, which can also disrupt the endocrine system and change hormone levels.