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Taiwan finds Domino's pizza sauce concentrate contains carcinogen

19,000 kg of imported Domino's pizza sauce batch found to contain residue of pesticide ethylene oxide

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Domino's pizza sauce concentrate. (FDA image)

Domino's pizza sauce concentrate. (FDA image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday (Feb. 6) announced that it had detected a carcinogen in 19,000 kg of Domino's pizza sauce.

The FDA announced its latest list of border inspection failures, with 25 products found to be non-compliant, including Thai fresh broccoli, Vietnamese fresh broad beans, and propolis liquid extract drops from Brunei, which were discovered to have exceeded pesticide standards or other non-compliant conditions. All of the products have been either returned or destroyed.

Among these products was a batch of Domino's pizza sauce concentrate imported from the U.S. by Taiwan's Kagome Co., Ltd. found to contain 1.3 mg/kg of residue of the pesticide ethylene oxide. The entire batch of 19,050.9 kilograms was intercepted at the border.

FDA Deputy Director-General Lin Chin-fu (林金富) told CNA that ethylene oxide is often used for sterilization of ingredients such as spices. The agency suspects that the substance detected is related to the spices in the pizza sauce.

Lin said the inspection process will be adjusted from regular sampling to enhanced sampling.

According to the FDA, between July 29 last year and Jan. 29 this year, 447 batches were submitted for inspection, of which 18 were unqualified, accounting for 4.03%. Pesticide residues such as flunimine and subquinone were detected.

Ethylene oxide is a toxic chemical substance, according to the Environmental Protection Administration's Toxic and Chemical Substances Bureau. It can be harmful if swallowed or inhaled, causing skin and severe eye irritation. The substance has been associated with carcinogenic effects and some evidence points to it potentially causing genetic defects, reproductive harm, or fetal injury.

Yen Tzung-hai (顏宗海), a toxicology researcher at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, was cited by the news agency as saying that ethylene oxide is classified by the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer as a known human carcinogen. He said that currently, only a few countries, including the U.S. and Canada, allow the use of ethylene oxide in spices and sesame for sterilization purposes.