Taipei (Taiwan News)--As eating dumplings on the Winter Solstice, which falls on Wednesday this year, is a Chinese tradition, the Health Bureau of Taichung City announced on Monday the bust of an illicit dumpling maker that used industrial red dye to color its dumplings.
The health bureau conducted a random inspection of dumplings on the market last month and collected 68 samples, of which only one red dumpling sample from a tofu pudding store in Fengyuan District was tested positive for containing industrial dye, according to a news release on the bureau's official website.
The bureau traced the tainted food back to its supplier, a local dumpling maker. The bureau, joined by local prosecutors, police and Food and Drug Administration personnel, conducted a search of the underground factory and seized two bottles of unidentified deep color powder.
The operator of the dumpling making facility, Chang Hsu-chung, admitted that the facility had mixed Rhodamine B, an industrial red dye, with edible pigments to color its red dumplings for 10 years, according to the report. Chang said the purpose of mixing the industrial dye with food coloring is to make the color of the red dumplings last longer and look better to boost sales, the bureau said.
The facility makes around 60 to 120 kilograms of dumplings daily and supplies them to the tofu pudding store and retailers at some traditional markets in the district, according to the bureau.
The case has been referred to the prosecution for further investigation, and Chang faces a sentence of less than seven years in prison and an additional fine of less than NT$80 million for violating the food safety law if convicted, the bureau said.
Taichung Health Bureau official Fu Chiung-hui said human consumption of excessive Rhodamine B may cause irritation and discomfort in the lungs, throat, nose and mucus of the gastrointestinal tract, or even red urine, affecting human health. She advised against buying candies, cakes, dumplings, traditional peach-shaped birthday cakes and turtle-shaped flour cakes that are too colorful to avoid getting problematic foods.