Ban on Jian Bo Tiong Bahru Shui Kueh lifted after company's own lab tests show no presence of sorbic acid

Tiong Bahru Tian Bo Shui Kueh was among nine kueh manufacturers whose operations were suspended on July 27, 2022. PHOTO: JIAN BO TIONG BAHRU SHUI KUEH/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Jian Bo Tiong Bahru Shui Kueh said in a Facebook post on Thursday (July 28) that the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has lifted its suspension.

Tiong Bahru Tian Bo Shui Kueh, which owns the popular Jian Bo brand of chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes), was among nine kueh manufacturers whose operations were suspended by the food agency on Wednesday, for having higher-than-permitted levels of sorbic or benzoic acid. Both chemicals are used in food preservation, and allowed in only the filling of kueh products, within permissible limits.

Mr Eric Ang, the brand's third-generation owner, told The Straits Times that the lifting of the suspension came after his company's own laboratory tests showed that the products did not contain sorbic acid.

Jian Bo's Facebook post carried a screen grab of a letter with a SFA letterhead, which said that "the direction to manage food is hereby revoked", following the submission of its laboratory test report on Wednesday.

The Straits Times has reached out to SFA for its response.

The 43-year-old said: "We are relieved that the SFA has revoked our suspension so quickly. However, in another sense, our reputation has been damaged, which is very saddening for us."

He explained that their business collaborations with major convenience stores and hotels had been jeopardised after the news of the suspension broke. For example, one company wanted Jian Bo to engage a public relations agency on publicity efforts, to salvage the sales of Jian Bo products.

Mr Ang said that he was shocked to receive the initial notification from the SFA regarding their suspension.

"We have always worked hand-in-hand with the SFA, and they guide us as to which products can or cannot be used, so we can follow the government guidelines," he added.

Jian Bo's customers said they were happy that Jian Bo's products have been made available again.

"I was slightly taken aback (by the announcement of the suspension) as I have been eating their chwee kueh for about three years now," said Mr Sunny Tan.

"It's great that (their suspension has been lifted) as I don't need to search for another brand of chwee kueh as a replacement when my cravings come," the 46-year-old manager added.

Another customer, Ms Celest Lim, said: "The Singapore authorities are generally proactive and provide alerts to the public whenever there are such issues, so I was pretty confident that it would be resolved in due time."

The 42-year-old communications manager added: "It's great news, as they are a comfort snack for us every time we visit the Tiong Bahru market. With National Day around the corner, it's also nice to know that a long-standing home-grown brand we all recognise has recovered so quickly from this."

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