These Two Food Additives may be Banned in Yet Another Country

The Health Authority in Taiwan is considering banning two food additives.  Both of these food additives are commonly used in processed foods right here in the U.S. despite the fact that they have been found in scientific research studies to be potentially harmful to humans.

The two additives under a ban consideration in Taiwan are Benzoyl Peroxide (which is commonly used by food manufacturers to make flour-based products like bread appear whiter, and which converts to Benzoic Acid when digested–a special concern for consumers with liver conditions) and Azodicarbonamide (frequently added by food manufacturers to speed up the aging or ripening process of flour, and has been the focus of food safety advocates and some political leaders in the U.S. who have argued it is a chemical of concern that should be banned from use in food).  The problem with these two additives is that they are not risk-free for all consumers to ingest and they are viewed by scientists, government health agencies and policymakers outside the U.S. as significant enough of a health risk that they have been banned in some countries.

For those consumers who want to avoid these additives, both Benzoyl Peroxide and Azodicarbonamide are on Whole Food’s “Unacceptable Ingredients for Food” list. For consumers shopping elsewhere, please be aware that these food chemicals are frequently undeclared additives; as they may not appear on the ingredients labels of processed foods, knowing where they are hiding can be tricky.  In general, the food additive Benzoyl Peroxide is commonly used in cereal flour, milk for cheese making, and cheeses in the U.S.  For the processed foods in which Azodicarbonamide may be lurking, please scroll down to the end of this blog post.



Taiwan’s health authority mulls over banning two health-harming flour additives

…what most people in Taiwan don’t know is that flour in Taiwan is usually laced with two health-harming flour treatment agents to whiten it and shorten the process of “ripening.” However, Taiwan’s Department of Health and Welfare is now mulling over banning these two additives, Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) and azodicarbonamide (ADA)…

BPO is used to whiten flour, while ADA is added to shorten the ripening process of flour from three or four weeks to three or four days, thus reducing electricity cost…

These two additives, which can induce asthma, harm liver, and even cause cancer, have been banned by the European Union, China, New Zealand and Australia long ago.

Chang Gung Memorial Hospital toxicologist Yen Tsung-hai said that after BPO is consumed by the human body, it will be converted into benzoic acid, which might not be easily metabolized by people whose liver doesn’t function well, thus adding burden to the liver. Animal experiments have also shown that BPO will increase chances of cancer in female rats, he added.




Where Found: Bleaching agent and dough conditioner commonly found in commercial flour, bread, processed bakery goods, pastries, pie crusts, pasta, crackers, and beer. Can also be found in bread products of fast food and conventional restaurants.


Red Flags: Evidence of ethyl carbamate formation (a Group 2B carcinogen according to the International Agency on Cancer/IARC) occurs in consumer food products (such as bread and beer) following the addition of azodicarbonamide; scientific animal studies on the byproduct urethane (a carcinogen) of this additive indicate a potential risk to humans. This additive has been banned in some countries.


Source:  The Food Hacker’s Handbook: A Guide to Breaking the Processed Foods and Additives Addiction