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Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Aug;58:362-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.05.010. Epub 2013 May 16.

Taiwan food scandal: the illegal use of phthalates as a clouding agent and their contribution to maternal exposure.

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Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


In 2011 the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration reported that plasticizers di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and di-iso-nonyl phthalate (DiNP), endocrine disruptors, were illegally added to clouding agents used in foods and beverages. 965 products were found contaminated, of which 206 were exported to 22 countries. This study's purpose was to obtain English names for 28 contaminated products for which DEHP levels were reported, calculate estimated average daily intake (mg/kg/day) for a 50 kg woman consuming one portion, and compare to U.S. and E.U. guidelines for daily intake. We found that drinking just one bottle (500 ml) of sports drinks would result in an average DEHP intake of 0.14 mg/kg bw/day (range 0.091-0.341), which exceeds by several fold government guidelines (0.02-0.06 mg/kg bw/day). One (2 g) serving from 4/14 samples of contaminated dietary supplements exceeds the guideline of 0.02 mg/kg bw/day. In conclusion, consuming even one portion of tainted drinks and some powders would lead to daily intake of DEHP that greatly exceeds established safety guidelines, raising concerns about potential adverse effects, particularly reproductive tract development in the male fetus. Global distribution of DEHP-contaminated and other adulterated products should prompt governments to become proactive in food safety regulations and chemical testing.


AGD; ATSDR; Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; CADIA; CSTEE; China Alcoholic Drinks Industry Association; Clouding agent; DEHP; Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP); DiNP; ECB/EU; Endocrine disruptor; European Chemicals Bureau; FSMA; Food Safety Modernization Act; Food contamination; MRL; Maternal exposure; PVC; Phthalate; RfD; Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment; TBIA; TDI; TFDA; Taiwan Beverage Industries Association; Taiwan Food and Drug Administration; US Environmental Protection Agency; US-EPA; anogenital distance; di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate; di-iso-nonyl phthalate; minimal risk level; parts per million; polyvinyl chloride; ppm; reference dose; tolerable daily intake

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