The Food and Drug Administration announced that it was assessing the safety of azodicarbonamide (ADA) and benzoyl peroxide (BPO) due to their adverse effects on some people.
Yet the additives have been legal in Taiwan for more than 20 years. ADA, which is used as a quality improvement agent and can make dough rise faster, is banned in food use in Europe and Australia, while flour bleaching agent BPO is banned in Europe and China.
The issue was brought to light recently in a Taiwanese newspaper story which discussed BPO and ADA and their use in improving the colour and texture of chewy white bread and noodles.
People with weak liver function might have difficulty metabolising BPO, which breaks down benzoic acid and oxygen. Children exposed to the additive may have higher risks of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It can also 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, though 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$4m [US$1,247-124,727],” FDA food safety official Hsu Chao-kai told Taipei Times.
“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.”