Fri, Nov 16, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Tapioca ‘bubbles’ safe to eat, commission says

CONCERNS:A report in a German paper that Taiwanese bubble tea might contain carcinogens prompted the Consumer Protection Commission to conduct tests

Staff writer, with CNA

The Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Commission yesterday said that all tapioca balls recently checked had passed chemical content tests and did not contain illegal amounts of chemicals.

Commission chief Liu Ching-fang (劉清芳) said consumer protection ombudsmen, along with officials from the Food and Drug Administration and local governments, collected 22 items at random from seven manufacturers for testing between Sept. 5 and Sept. 13.

None of the 22 items tested positive for styrene, Liu said

One sample was found to have contained 0.32 parts per million of acetophenone in a flavoring additive, but the chemical is allowed to be used as a flavoring substance, Liu said.

The tests also found brominated biphenyls in some samples, but the content was so minimal that it was not considered to be harmful to human health, she said.

As for hexanedioic acid and benzoic acid, used as preservatives, all the items either did not contain any, or contained less than the maximum standard of 1g of preservatives per kilogram of food, she said.

One sample that contained benzoic acid was deemed to have violated regulations because the manufacturer did not properly list the chemical on the packaging.

Liu said the manufacturer will be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 if it fails to make the required improvement within a specified timeframe.

The commission said the tests were made in response to a German media report in August that Taiwanese bubble tea might contain carcinogens.

The Rheinischen Post reported a test conducted by RWTH Aachen University on beverages sold at a Taiwanese bubble tea shop in Moenchengladbach, which found that they contained styrene, acetophenone and brominated substances.

However, the FDA confirmed in September that a second round of tests conducted by German authorities found Taiwanese bubble tea to be free of cancer-causing chemicals such as the biphenyl carbonates and the chemicals mentioned in the newspaper report.

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