Flour additives can pose health risk: FDA

One of the chemicals used can also be found in yoga mats and shoe soles, and the additive is banned in Europe and Australia, a nephrologist said.

Author : Lee I-chia

 Photo : Jenia Nebolsina

Photo : Jenia Nebolsina

Many flour products contain azodicarbonamide (ADA) and benzoyl peroxide (BPO) — which are legal additives in Taiwan — and the chemicals can have adverse effects in some people, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said, adding that it will evaluate whether regulations should be amended.

A report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper yesterday said that the color and texture of chewy white bread and white noodles can be induced by flour containing BPO and ADA, which were approved in food production more than 20 years ago.

Commenting on the report, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital nephrologist Yen Tzung-hai (顏宗海) said that “BPO is a flour bleaching agent and ADA is a quality improvement agent that is used as a foaming agent to make dough rise faster.”

ADA is also used in yoga mats and shoe soles to increase elasticity, and the chemical is banned as a food additive in Europe and Australia, Yen said, adding that the use of BPO as a food additive is banned in Europe and China.

BPO breaks down to benzoic acid and oxygen, Yen said, adding that people with weak liver function might have difficulty metabolizing benzoic acid, children who are exposed to benzoic acid might have higher risks of developing attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and BPO can trigger allergic reactions or asthma in some people.

Taiwan allows the use of ADA in food products at levels below 45 parts per million (ppm) and BPO at levels below 60ppm, but the chemicals must be listed on product labels.

“Food companies that do not reveal [the use of BPO or ADA] on their labels may face a fine between NT$40,000 and NT$4 million [US$1,247 and US$124,727],” FDA Division of Food Safety official Hsu Chao-kai (許朝凱) said.

“To decide whether the chemicals should be removed from the list of food additives or whether regulations need to be amended to tighten standards, [the agency] will need to conduct more evaluations,” Hsu said.

Source : Taipei Times