Two weeks ago, a batch of concentrate for Coke Zero, which was being exported from China to Taiwan, was banned in Taiwan for containing methyl para-hydroxybenzoate.
Consumption of methyl para-hydroxybenzoate, an antiseptic chemical, is said to lead to stomach upsets and raise female hormone levels.
An official at the Taiwan FDA confirmed the order to ban the specific batch on the condition of anonymity, but added that the order did not cover all the other batches or any other Coca-Cola products.
“I can confirm that the Department of Health (DOH) tests on that batch revealed that each kilogram of the concentrate contained 2062 milligrams of the banned chemical against the safe standard of 1 milligram per kilogram,” he said.
“As a result, the DOH has decided to intensify our checks to carry out random inspections on 20 per cent of all imported products as against the 5 per cent of all products that were being checked previously,” he said.
As a consequence of the incident, local media outlets in China carried reports that Coca-Cola products were unsafe for consumption, citing the banning of the Coke Zero concentrate in Taiwan.
In response, Coca-Cola issued a statement saying that their products in mainland China were safe for consumption and that the preservative was permitted there as well as in Hong Kong and the US where it is widely used in beverages.
It also said that the concentrate is used only in beverage dispensing machines used in fast-food chains, and it was to be diluted before sale after which a kilogram would only contain 0.015 milligrams of the banned preservative.