Jun 09, 2016

    Iced drinks, such as milk tea, fail safety checks in Taipei


    SOME frozen and iced drinks in Taipei have been found to fall short of sanitation standards as they contain viable bacteria, which experts said are best avoided even though they might not immediately cause diseases.

    The Taipei Department of Health conducted the inspections on 117 types of ice-cold soft drink and 43 ingredients used in drink-making in mid-April and released the final findings this week, the Taipei Times and Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

    The drinks were tested for pathogenic bacteria while the ingredients - including tapioca balls and aiyu jelly, known as ice jelly in Singapore - were examined for the preservatives, colouring agents and other chemicals applied.

    All the ingredients passed the inspection, but 32 drinks were found to contain micro-organisms that could be harmful.

    The outlets that sold the affected drinks were allowed a grace period to improve their products, but nine drinks were still found to contain an excessive amount of bacteria, including Escherichia coli.

    The drinks that failed the inspection were cellulose green tea, coco au lait, iced green tea, milk tea, alpine tea, iced o-matcha, carbon-baking oolong, chocolate crispy shave ice, and taro sago.

    The iced green tea was found with the highest concentration of coliform bacteria - 110 times the legal maximum contaminant level, said the department.

    A drink with an excessive coliform reading might not cause food poisoning, but it indicates that it is produced in unsanitary conditions, it added.

    The offenders were fined between NT$30,000 (S$1,260) and NT$3 million, said CNA.

    Taiwan invented many kinds of soft drink, the most famous being the bubble milk tea.

    The Taiwanese are concerned about food safety and, in recent years, food safety inspections have intensified.