The public should not consume butterfly pea flowers until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has completed a safety assessment, the Taipei Department of Health warned on Friday.
People in parts of Southeast Asia like to consume the luminous, indigo-colored flowers as an infusion or a cooking ingredient because of the health properties they believe the flowers contain.
The trend is catching on in Taiwan, the department said.
Photo: Lin Yu-tze, Taipei Times
However, according to the FDA, butterfly pea flowers are only approved as a coloring agent, and should not be added to food or beverages, the city’s Food and Drug Division director Wang Ming-li (王明理) said.
The butterfly pea flower contains flavonoids known to cause uterine contractions, so pregnant women should avoid consuming it, he added.
Despite the increasing popularity of the plant, the public should avoid consuming food or beverages in which it is used as more than just a coloring agent until the FDA finishes its assessment, Wang said.
Four beverage stores in Taipei use the flower as a coloring agent, Wang said, but no company has applied for FDA approval to use the plant as a food or beverage ingredient.
Anyone caught selling the plant as a food or beverage could be fined NT$60,000 to NT$200 million (US$1,938 to US$6,46 million) under the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法), Wang said.
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