Thai exporter caught adding dangerous sweetener to pineapples

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An online food store has been ordered to remove a brand of frozen pineapples from Thailand from its website after they were found to contain cyclamate, an artificial sweetener that Taiwan does not allow in frozen fruit, a health official said Tuesday.

The seller i3fresh.tw and importer Greenstar are both responsible and have been required to provide compensation to consumers, according to Wang Ming-li (王明理), chief of the Food and Drug Division at Taipei’s Department of Health.

They could also face a fine ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$3 million for illegal use of cyclamate and a fine of between NT$40,000 and NT$4 million for false advertising.

Taipei City Councilor Huang Hsiang-chun (黃向羣), who sent the pineapples for testing, said the test result showed that the frozen pineapples contained more than 1g/kg of cyclamate, consistent with another test conducted by Taipei’s Department of Health.

Though forbidden in frozen fruit, cyclamate is permitted to be added to melon seeds, preserved fruit, carbonated beverages and certain nutritional supplements, with maximum allowable levels ranging from 1g/kg to 2g/kg.

According to Huang, cyclamate consumption in large amounts can cause kidney disease, abnormally low phosphate levels in one’s blood, and photosensitive dermatitis.

Before the case was uncovered, about 100 tons of the fruit had been imported into Taiwan, he said.

In a statement, i3fresh.tw said tests conducted previously showed that the pineapples did not contain any cyclamate.

When questioned by the importer, however, the Thai factory supplying the product admitted that due to an inventory shortage, it had bought pineapples from other factories which probably added cyclamate to the fruit, but it wasn’t them, according to i3fresh.tw.

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