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J Formos Med Assoc. 2011 Nov;110(11):671-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jfma.2011.09.002. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Food safety involving ingestion of foods and beverages prepared with phthalate-plasticizer-containing clouding agents.

Author information

1
Department of Nephrology and Division of Clinical Toxicology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 199 Tung Hwa North Road, Taipei 105, Taiwan.

Abstract

In May 2011, the illegal use of the phthalate plasticizer di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in clouding agents for use in foods and beverages was reported in Taiwan. This food scandal has caused shock and panic among the majority of Taiwanese people and has attracted international attention. Phthalate exposure is assessed by ambient monitoring or human biomonitoring. Ambient monitoring relies on measuring chemicals in environmental media, foodstuff and consumer products. Human biomonitoring determines body burden by measuring the chemicals, their metabolites or specific reaction products in human specimens. In mammalian development, the fetus is set to develop into a female. Because the female phenotype is the default, impairment of testosterone production or action before the late phase may lead to feminizing characteristics. Phthalates disrupt the development of androgen-dependent structures by inhibiting fetal testicular testosterone biosynthesis. The spectrum of effects obtained following perinatal exposure of male rats to phthalates has remarkable similarities with the human testicular dysgenesis syndrome. Epidemiological studies have suggested associations between phthalate exposure and shorter gestational age, shorter anogenital distance, shorter penis, incomplete testicular descent, sex hormone alteration, precocious puberty, pubertal gynecomastia, premature thelarche, rhinitis, eczema, asthma, low birth weight, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, low intelligence quotient, thyroid hormone alteration, and hypospadias in infants and children. Furthermore, many studies have suggested associations between phthalate exposure and increased sperm DNA damage, decreased proportion of sperm with normal morphology, decreased sperm concentration, decreased sperm morphology, sex hormone alteration, decreased pulmonary function, endometriosis, uterine leiomyomas, breast cancer, obesity, hyperprolactinemia, and thyroid hormone alteration in adults. Finally, the number of phthalate-related scientific publications from Taiwan has increased greatly over the past 5 years, which may reflect the health effects from the illegal addition of phthalate plasticizer to clouding agent in foodstuff over the past two decades.

PMID:
22118310
DOI:
10.1016/j.jfma.2011.09.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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