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Japan Recalls Over 18,000 Bottles of Vietnamese Chili Sauce Due to Food Safety

A popular chili sauce from Vietnam is under fire for food safety concerns.

Osaka City Public Health Center recently recalled 18,168 bottles of Masan Group's Chin-su chili sauce from the market for containing benzoic acid, which is banned in products containing chili in Japan, Tuoi Tre reports.

On March 8, the Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health of Tokyo Metropolitan Government started inspecting Chin-su chili sauce products imported by an Osaka-based company named Javis Co,. Ltd because of food safety violation suspicions.

According to the findings of Tokyo's Food Safety Council, Chin-su bottles with an expiration date of June 10, 2019 allegedly contain 0.44 grams of benzoic acid per kilogram of chili sauce. The figure is 0.45 in another batch with an expiration date of July 6, 2019. It was also found that label of the bottles doesn't clearly indicate the amount of benzoic acid contained.

There are 757 boxes in total that were sold to ISC Industrial Co. Ltd by Javis during October and December last year.

Representatives from Masan Food said it has never exported its Chin-su chili sauce to the Japanese market under Javis Co,. Ltd or ISC Industrial Co. Ltd. Masan claims that currently, its products are only exported to the United States, Australia, Russia, the Czech Republic, China and Taiwan.

According to Masan's statement in their press release, the company doesn't have a clear answer regarding the origin of the withdrawn sauce. "As we have no [chili sauce] sample in hand right now, we have no official conclusion on the origins of the bottles. However, it is likely that they are either exclusive for the Vietnamese market, or their origins are unknown," the document reads.

Benzoic acid is sometimes used as a preservative and is allowed in a small amount. The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization recommend a daily intake of benzoic acid limited to under five milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Vietnam allows one gram of benzoic acid per kilogram of chili sauce.

Japan also allows the additive in syrup, margarine and soft drinks, but bans them in chili sauce. There are concerns that benzoic acid, when reacts with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) under certain conditions, can produce benzene, a chemical not safe for human consumption as it can increase cancer risk.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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