Consumers, flour makers divided over adding of food additive

09:07, December 31, 2010      

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China's Ministry of Health said in a statement Thursday that consumers and flour producers are divided on whether to continue mixing a food additive to flour to make it appear more white.

Consumers have almost unanimously agreed to stop using benzoyl peroxide,

a food additive commonly used to "bleach" flour, while the views of flour producers and additive manufacturers were in favor of continuing its use, according to the statement.

On Dec. 15, the ministry began soliciting public opinions on whether to continue using the food additive 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".

As of Thursday, more than 970 suggestions have been forwarded to the ministry, either through fax or email, according to the statement.

The Health Ministry had proposed banning the use of benzoyl peroxide and calcium peroxide in flour production beginning Dec.1, 2011. Flour and related products which entered the market before Dec.15, 2010, however,were allowed to be sold until the shelf life of such products expires.

Under current Chinese food additive regulations, the maximum volume of benzoyl peroxide 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, stipulate the maximum content of benzoyl peroxide used in one kilogram of flour shall not exceed 0.075 grams.

Despite the use of benzoyl peroxide not resulting in safety problems, there is no need to use the additive in flour processing, according to the statement.

Source: Xinhua
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