19 out of 20 samples of rice vermicelli and rice noodle in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap have been found to contain 0.33 to 14mg Tinopal per kg, a toxic substance that can cause cancer, according to local department of health.
Tinopal is a fluorescent optical brightener, and when it is added to rice vermicelli, it makes it look whiter, brighter and fresher than normal, and thereby more attractive to customers.
These samples were taken for tests from 15 food facilities and 2 enterprises during an inspection lasting from July 16 to 26.
The health officials also found Na2S2O3 in 3 samples and acid benzoic in 4 samples. The two substances have been found at an amount that was above the allowable limit.
But only small fines were levied on the offenders because this is the first time they violated food safety regulations, an official said.
Previously, many samples of rice vermicelli taken from four southern provinces and cities, including Ho Chi Minh City, have been found to contain Tinopal during recent inspections conducted in a series of provinces and cities across the country by experts from the Health Ministry’s Food Safety Department.