Certain imported food items from Taiwan may contain toxic DEHP
Wendy Tao, B.Sc., Student Representative
Some of you might have heard of the news about the recent scandal of di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) found in beverages, food items and natural health products. DEHP is a plasticizer that is added to vinyl plastic to increase the softness and flexibility and is used normally in a great variety of products that need soft plastics including medical devices.
In Taiwan, food producers have been illegally adding DEHP to beverages and foods, like jam and jelly and drinks, to improve their appearance. DEHP is used in place of palm oil to extend the shelf life of clouding agents which are allowed as food additives.
Clouding agents are used to mix contents in beverages such as juices or sports drinks and act as emulsifiers to give products a more appealing appearance. The clouding agent is not the problem here and the problem is the DEHP that was added to them. Plasticizers can cause hormonal imbalance, and are a hazard for pregnant women and children. DEHP is classified as Group 2B, or possibly carcinogenic to humans, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Exposure to plasticizers can occur through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. In order to avoid toxic plasticizers, one should be careful when choosing juices, beverages and foods. Changing dietary habits by drink more water than other beverages and reducing the frequency of eating out are the best ways to avoid the plasticizers according to the experts in Taiwan.
The plasticizer crisis should give most of us a chance to reflect on our dietary habits. We should adjust by minimizing our use of plastic products as well as changing our living and dietary habits by incorporating whole foods into our diet and reducing the intake of processed food. References