Skimming China Daily on a recent day, I was surprised to discover an article suggesting that in the wake of the melamine scandal, another food additive commonly used in Chinese products is to be banned: benzoyl peroxide. The organic chemical, better know for its role in hair dye and acne formulas, is also an additive used worldwide in the bleaching process of flour.
Benzoyl peroxide in small amounts has not yet been classed as dangerous, and indeed is likely to cause no detriment to human health at all. According to Mao Qun’an, a spokesman from the Ministry of Health, China is considering banning the chemical due to the fact that technology has improved and that flour production no longer requires benzoyl peroxide.
A friend of mine in Beijing recently told me that her kitchen cupboards are fully stocked with imported foods as a safety precaution to protect her two toddlers from the risk of illness or disease. I understand that she is acting with her children’s best interests at heart. Still, I can’t help but feel she is a perfect example of a mother gone mad. When so many families in China are eating local produce at home and in restaurants, how do we know where to draw the line? After the melamine debacle, I gave up dairy for almost two months, knowing that whilst I might miss my morning mocha, the consequences of ignoring the health warnings were too painful to consider.
It is entirely possible to avoid bleached flour and any other chemical food additives, probably at the cost of your dining experiences in Beijing and your salary. But with the jury still out on the matter of what risks these additives pose, I do not think I am going to be taking any drastic measures.
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