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Phthalates as a Food Clouding Agent

             In 2011, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) discovered that a broad range of 'Made-in-Taiwan' food and drinks including beverages, fruit juices, pearl milk tea, was contaminated because of using phthalate plasticizers DEHP, DINP and DBP to replace palm oil in clouding agents. Over 900 types of food products were contaminated and hundreds of firms involved in this scandal. Countries that importing 'Made-in-Taiwan' food and drinks like mainland China, the United States, Hong Kong are also affected. In Hong Kong, 33 samples were found to contain DEHP exceeding the safety reference level. All contaminated products were immediately removed from the shelves by the governments all over the world. This food safety crisis has caused great concern in Taiwan and around the world. Also, Taiwan's image as a safe food manufacturing country has been damaged.
             What is Clouding Agent?.
             Clouding agents are food additives used in jelly, fruit jams, yogurt mix powder and beverages like sports drinks, canned teas and fruit juices. Manufacturing of these food and drinks applies the properties of emulsions, which are mixtures of at least two immiscible liquids, consisting of a continuous phase and of a dispersed phase. In this case, it can form an oil-in-water emulsion that the oil phase consists of an oil-soluble clouding agent, while the continuous phase consists of a solution of gum arabic, or a suitable hydrocolloid of similar properties. Using clouding agent as emulsifier can keep the emulsions evenly dispersed and make the food products more stable, cloudy and aesthetically appealing without affecting taste and odor. Some common clouding agents include palm oil, citrus oils and vegetable oils.
             What is Phthalates? .
             Phthalates is one major kind of plasticizers nowadays, comprising over 85% of production every year among over 100 types of plasticizers. Plasticizers are polymer additives generally used in plastics applications, especially polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

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