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Japan’s Osaka recalls Vietnam-made chili sauce for containing banned additive

Saturday, April 06, 2019, 16:59 GMT+7
Japan’s Osaka recalls Vietnam-made chili sauce for containing banned additive
Bottles of Chin-su chili sauce manufactured by Vietnam’s Masan Group subject to a recall in Osaka, Japan. Photo: Osaka City

Authorities in the Japanese city of Osaka have ordered the recall of over 18,000 bottle of chili sauce imported from Vietnam for containing a banned food additive, the city’s online portal reported this week.

Ta Duc Minh, trade attaché to the Embassy of Vietnam in Japan, confirmed the news with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Saturday.

According to information published on https://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/ on Tuesday, 18,168 bottles of Chin-su chili sauce produced by Vietnam’s Masan Group are being recalled for containing an additive known as benzoic acid, which is not approved for use in food in Japan.

Osaka-based company Javis imported the amount of Chin-su chili sauce between October and December 2018, according to the site.

The condiment was found to contain benzoic acid at concentration levels of 0.41-0.45 grams per kilogram of chili sauce, which violates Japan’s food safety law.

The chili sauce bottles were produced in three separate lots with expiration dates of June 10, June 17, and July 6, 2019.

Chin-su chilli sauce are seen on sale at a supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

In a statement on Saturday, Masan said it had never exported its Chin-su chili sauce to Japan through Javis, either directly or indirectly.

As of today, Masan only directly exports its chili sauce to the U.S., Canada, Australia, Russia, Czech Republic, China, and Taiwan, a company representative told Tuoi Tre.

The bottles of chili sauce recalled by Japanese authorities are labelled “Exclusively for sale in Vietnam. Exports are not authorized.”, suggesting they had been manufactured for the domestic market, the representative said.

It appears that the Chin-su products affected in the recall in Osaka were imported to Japan through a third party, and Javis failed to provide adequate information of the benzoic acid content on the sub-labels of the condiment.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that human’s benzoic acid intake be limited to under five milligrams per kilogram of body weight a day to avoid adverse health effects.

As benzoic acid is detected in Chin-su chili sauce at a maximum concentration of 0.45g/kg, a person weighing 50kg can still consume 0.56kg of the Vietnamese chili sauce per day for a lifetime without any health damage, the Japanese site claims.

In Vietnam, food safety regulations allow for benzoic acid levels in food of up to one gram per kilogram of finished product.

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