China bans two food additives in flour

08:16, March 02, 2011      

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Chinese authorities have banned the production of two food additives commonly used to "bleach" flour, said the Ministry of Health Tuesday.

The two additives, benzoyl peroxide and calcium peroxide, were banned because "there is no need to use them in flour processing anymore" as the country's processing techniques and wheat planting had improved, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The authorities made the decision in response to public requests for natural food and the intake of fewer chemical materials, according to the statement.

Manufacturers are no longer allowed to produce the two food additives or use them in flour production beginning May 1, 2011. However, flour and related products were allowed to be sold until the shelf life of such products expires.

On Dec. 15 last year, the ministry began soliciting public opinion on whether to continue using these food additives in flour, amid concerns that China's current food processing techniques cannot mix the additive evenly and excessive use of the additive might become "a hidden peril".

Consumers have almost unanimously agreed to stop using the additives, while the views of flour producers and additive manufacturers were in favor of continuing its use, according to the statement. ` Under current Chinese food additive regulations, the maximum volume of benzoyl peroxide which can be used in one kilogram of flour is 0.06 grams. Regulations vary elsewhere in the United States, Canada, and Japan. The European Union has banned the use of benzoyl peroxide in food.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, an organization created in 1963 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop food standards and guidelines, stipulates the maximum content of benzoyl peroxide used in one kilogram of flour shall not exceed 0.075 grams.

Su Zhi, director of health inspection and supervision bureau under the Ministry of Health, said Tuesday that Chinese police have arrested 23 people for allegedly producing, marketing or using illegal food additives last year.

Targeting illegal food additives in the country's food safety overhaul last year, authorities have cracked down on 5,305 related cases and confiscated more than 19.8 million yuan (3.01 million U.S. dollars) of illegal gains and goods worth more than 60 million yuan, the ministry's figures showed.

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