The Viet Nam Food Administration announced yesterday that Viet Nam would temporarily set a maximum threshold for the presence of a potentially cancer-causing chemical, commonly used in plastics, in food and drink products.
Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is not a food additive and the addition of DEHP into food is not approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Codex Alimentarius Commission or any national authorities. However, DEHP may be still present in food from environmental contamination or contact with packaging materials.
Under the temporary rule, there may not be more than 1.5 mg/kg of DEHP in solid or liquid types of food.
The proposed level was determined after consultations with leading experts on food safety and following WHO and CODEX guidelines as well as experiences from other countries.
The presence of DEHP in food was first discovered when a Taiwanese enterprise was found intentionally adding DEHP to an emulsifier, a legal food additive, on May 26. The company should have used sesame or palm oil which are much more expensive.
This incident prompted Vietnamese agencies to put high-risk import products under scrutiny and some 40 DEHP-tainted products were discovered. In the near future, the administration would strengthen surveillance of high-risk groups of products to remove unsafe items from the market.
To date, no prominent international agencies including FAO and CODEX have set a maximum concentration limit of the substance in food or medications. Earlier this month, Hong Kong was the first country to propose capping DEHP concentration in food and medications. — VNS