New rules for baking powder in food

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) recently announced that the regulations on the amount of baking powder that contains aluminium residue will be revised based on the different types of processed foods.

The MHW's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the new regulation will be officially announced within two months and carried out in June, and food sellers who violate the new regulations will receive a minimum fine of NT$30,000 (S$1,245) to a maximum of NT$3 million.

According to the MHW, a report shows that people do not have to worry about potential side effects like dementia from consuming pastries that contain baking powder with aluminium because the amount is minimal.

However, some doctors still said that patients whose renal functions are not working well should not consume anything that contains aluminium.

The MHW said that the regulated amount of aluminium residue contained in fried goods and pastries will be different from the regulated amount for processed seafood products.

Yen Tsung-hai, a toxicologist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in New Taipei City's Linkou District, said that he is glad to see the regulations revised.

According to Yen, the health issues that could result from consuming aluminium include dementia, bone diseases and neurotoxicity.

"Many civil organisations have been pointing out that aluminium residues were repeatedly tested in pastries, but there was no regulated amount of aluminium residue for food providers to follow, which made it difficult for food providers to change the ingredients they used," said Yen.

According to the MHW, based on the research that the ministry entrusted to a third party to conduct, people do not have to be overly anxious about consuming aluminium residue in general.

The FDA said that there is no confirmed connection between dementia and the aluminium residue from food and lead-made utensils, so the administration only set a regulated amount of aluminium residue in food instead of banning the usage of baking powder containing aluminium.

However, Yen said that some research suggested that aluminium could decrease renal functions for some people because they cannot properly get rid of aluminium inside their bodies.

Yen said that people with renal function issues should stick to food that has no aluminium residue to prevent more health issues from being triggered.