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Costco Taiwan recalls two US-imported foods containing carcinogen

Cheese and garlic seasoning removed from shelves or recalled after inspection reveals ethylene oxide

A Costco supermarket is pictured in Taipei. (CNA photo)

A Costco supermarket is pictured in Taipei. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two products have been removed from the shelves of Costco supermarkets in Taiwan after both were found to contain carcinogenic chemicals.

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday morning (Aug. 18) that a batch of U.S.-imported Sonoma brand “Country Selection” cheese was found to contain ethelyne oxide, per CNA. Costco imported 2,120 packs of the cheese, and had already sold 94 of them by the time a recall was announced. The remainder was removed from shelves.

The FDA said it conducted a random inspection at a Costco supermarket in Kaohsiung on Aug. 7, where it discovered the contaminated product. Four samples of the cheese were tested and one was found to contain 0.2 mg of ethylene oxide, a chemical that is not permissible in food products, according to FDA standards.

Meanwhile, Taichung’s FDA also held a press conference on Friday afternoon and said that 363 containers of McCormick brand garlic seasoning sold at Costco supermarkets had been taken off shelves. The garlic product was also imported from the U.S., and found to contain ethylene oxide during a random inspection.

The U.S. government lists ethylene oxide as a carcinogen, and describes it as a chemical mostly used in the production of other chemicals, including anti-freeze. In smaller amounts, ethylene oxide is used as a pesticide and to sterilize, it says.

Costco Taiwan recalls two US-imported foods containing carcinogen
McCormick brand garlic power and Sonoma Cheese products are pictured after being inspected by the FDA. (Taiwan News, CNA photo)

Lymphoma and leukemia are the cancers most frequently associated with exposure to ethylene oxide, and stomach and breast cancers may also be linked to the chemical.

Costco in Taiwan has faced multiple food safety issues this year. In May, the FDA fined the company NT$7.5 million (US$244,000) for selling Kirkland brand berries imported from the U.S. that were infected with hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A was again found in Kirkland brand frozen strawberries Costco imported into Taiwan from Chile in May, and the FDA requested that all frozen berry products sold under the Kirkland brand be recalled. Meanwhile, in July, the same carcinogen found in the two Costco products on Friday was found in a separate U.S. made cheese product sold by the supermarket.