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Singapore authorities recall popular Taiwanese milk tea

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by August 23, 2016 General

By Sun Hsin Hsuan, The China Post
August 24, 2016, 12:14 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) Tuesday recalled popular Taiwanese milk tea drink Chun Cui He, also known as Just Drink-Milk Tea, for containing an unapproved food additive, but say the beverage does not pose a food safety risk.

In a statement released online, the AVA said it “has worked with the beverage importer to recall the products, as they contain the ingredient L-theanine.”

A natural constituent in tea, L-theanine is not currently on the list of food additives permitted under Singapore’s food regulations.

“There is no food safety risk associated with the recalled products,” the AVA said, but “consumers who have consumed this product and have health concerns can consult their doctor or seek medical advice.”

Taiwan Bifido (台灣比菲多食品), the Taiwan-based company that manufactures and imports the drinks to Singapore, said it is trying to get the drinks back on the shelves.

Singapore news outlet The Straits Times reported that all 7-Eleven convenience stores were told to halt sales of the drink in Singapore on Monday, Aug 22.

According to The Straits Times, a million bottles of the drink, worth S$2 million (approximately NT$47.5 million), have been sold since the brand’s two flavors, milk tea and latte, made their debut in Singapore last month.

The latte flavor Just Drink-Milk Tea remains on the shelves as no L-theanine was detected in it.

Legal in Taiwan

Addressing concerns from the public, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that L-theanine is legal in food and drinks according to the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation.

Taiwan Bifido added that L-theanine is also recognized as safe by the U.S., Japan and Korea.

In an official statement, the beverage company said it abided by Singapore’s customs regulations when exporting the products but will follow up on the case with more documents to keep the drinks on the shelves.

Doctor Yen Zong-hai from Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital said the issue is a legal one and has nothing to do with food safety.

He said L-theanine can be used to treat high blood pressure and if citizens consume too much of it while also taking high blood pressure medication, it may cause headache and dizziness.

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