Aluminum in Taiwan pastries

Chinese crullers and donuts from famous eateries have been found to contain aluminum, which is a health risk causing problems to the kidney and brain, a consumer watchdog said yesterday. The Consumer Foundation (CF) said that of the 22 food samples it tested for aluminum, 16 items, or 66 per cent, contained the metal.

The CF revelation comes in the wake of reports saying drinking water in several areas of Taiwan contains high levels of aluminum.

The watchdog tested six samples of Chinese cruller - a favorite for breakfast - and found that all of them contained 200 to 600 ppm (parts per million) of aluminum.

One of the samples came from a famous soy bean milk restaurant on Taipei's Zhongxiao East Rd. near the Cabinet building, with its level of the metal reaching 200 to 300 ppm, the CF said.

An item from a popular donut chain also contained aluminum (200 to 300 ppm), said the watchdog. The donut chain said it would not make any specific comments because it did not know how the CF test was conducted, the United Evening News reported.

Other food items found to have contained the metal include Chinese bun and sea weed (30 to 400 ppm).

The CF said the metal comes from the leavening agents and alum used in making the food items.

According to international standards, safe weekly consumption of aluminum cannot exceed two milligrams per kilogram of a person's weight.

It means a 30 kg child can only consume 60 mg every week. If that child eats four donuts weighing 60 g and containing 250 ppm of aluminum each, the consumption would exceed the safety level, the CF said.

The CF noted that Taiwan has yet to set a food safety standard for aluminum levels. But in the China government has already set a permitted level at 100 ppm for food items, the CF added.

The CF last year found 100 to 500 ppm of aluminum when testing samples of two kinds of food last year.

It said it decided to expand the scope of the test this year in order to spur the Taiwan government into setting a safety standard for aluminum levels.

Toxicologists said long-term consumption of aluminum may create health problems, causing damage to the kidney and brain and creating other ailments.

The metal is particularly harmful to pregnant women, children and kidney patients, and it may hamper the brain development of new-born babies, the toxicologists said.

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