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90% of the mixed drinks contain excessive levels of bacteria

1 August 2009 820 views No Comment

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A recent academic study found excessive levels of bacteria in beverages sold over tea stands across the nation, with drinks from a popular bubble tea chain based in Taipei County carrying viable bacteria numbers 2,100 times the accepted norm, local media reported yesterday. Hsieh Ming-zhe, a professor with the College of Public Health and Nutrition at Taipei Medical University, was cited as saying that sanitation reports found that 92 percent of red, green or oolong teas sold over refreshment stands showed unsatisfactory levels of the bacterium colon bacillus, while 100 percent of drinks that contain milk, cream, tapioca balls or coconut jellies fell significantly short of the accepted bacteria content range.

The findings showed that none of the beverages contained the harmful preservative dehydroacetic acid but 41 percent showed traces of milder preservatives such as sorbic or benzoic acid.

Even so, these compounds could accumulate over years in bodies and become detrimental to health, Hsieh noted. Long-term intake of dehydroacetic acid is believed to bring damage to the liver, kidney and neuro systems.

The scholar went on to say that results from a separate questionnaire reported 65 percent of residents purchase one of such shaken drinks every other day and 26 percent of those surveyed had experienced gastrointestinal problems as a result of such drink consumption.

Forty percent of consumers make their choices based on taste and 30 percent on price, while only 16.8 percent noted the importance of quality and sanitation as the main criterion, Hsieh added.

At least 100 samples of each type of beverages were collected. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.09 percent, according to CNA reports.

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