Thu, Oct 29, 2015 - Page 3 News List

FDA plans to recategorize legal food additives

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said it would recategorize legal food additives for more precise monitoring over their use, and that it is building an open search system so that people can learn about the additives and related regulations online.

A string of scandals involving problematic food additives in Taiwan in recent years, including recent cases of preservatives added to cooked rice and industrial hydrogen peroxide used in the production of dried bean curd, have led many people to worry about what chemicals are being added to their foods.

The FDA said that although many people are concerned about the safety of food additives, many of the products are primarily from natural ingredients and have been used for decades, and careful use of some additives can even improve food quality and safety.

Giving the examples of benzoic acid — which can be found in berries, propionic acid bacteria in cheese and acetic acid in vinegar — the administration said not all food additives are bad for human health, but legal and reasonable use is crucial.

FDA section chief Kao Yi-ting (高怡婷) said that currently, food additives are categorized into 17 groups, but that classification system is 40 years old, so the administration decided to modify the Standards for Specification, Scope, Application and Limitation of Food Additives to better reflect the current situation.

“The new classification will have 28 categories, conforming to international standards,” she said, adding that people will find it easier to understand the additives’ functions after the recategorization.

For example, citric acid and malic acid will be categorized as “acidity regulators,” rather than “quality improvement agent,” she said.

She said the administration is also building a search system and hopefully by next year the public will be able to type in the names of food additives online to learn about their functions and usage limitations.

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