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Findings of 2731 suspected phthalate-tainted foodstuffs during the 2011 phthalates incident in Taiwan

  • Wu, Chia-Fang
  • Chang-Chien, Guo-Ping
  • Su, Sheng-Wen
  • Chen, Bai-Hsiun
  • Wu, Ming-Tsang1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 2, 7, 6, 2, 8, 9
  • 1 Department of Public Health
  • 2 Kaohsiung Medical University
  • 3 Department of Chemical Engineering
  • 4 Cheng Shiu University
  • 5 Department of Pediatrics
  • 6 Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital
  • 7 Department of Family Medicine
  • 8 Center of Environmental and Occupational Medicine
  • 9 Kaohsiung Municipal Hsiao-Kang Hospital
Published Article
Journal of the Formosan Medical Association
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Accepted Date
Feb 26, 2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.jfma.2014.02.010


Background/PurposeThis study aims to investigate what kinds of food products were contaminated by phthalates, mainly di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and/or di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), during the 2011 phthalates incident in Taiwan, and whether the DEHP and/or DINP concentrations of some affected foods decreased after this incident. MethodsDuring May–October, 2011, 2731 food items were sent by individual citizens or companies to a government-accredited laboratory for the analyses of six main phthalate chemicals, including DEHP, DINP, di-isodecyl phthalate, di(n-octyl)phthalate, di-n-butyl phthalate, and butyl benzyl phthalate. A concentration of ≥1 ppm for any of the six phthalate chemicals in the foods studied was defined as positive. ResultsThe overall positive rate was 16.2%. The positive rate of possibly affected foods was similar between sanctioned and non-sanctioned foods categorized as “Others” by the government (16.0% vs. 16.4%). There were 33 food items, most of which belonged to the Others category, sent twice by companies on different dates. Of these, the positive rates of affected foods significantly decreased from 39.4% for DEHP and 72.7% for DINP at the first analyses to 3.0% for DEHP and 9.1% for DINP at the second, respectively (p < 0.0001). ConclusionBesides the government-sanctioned foods, foods from the Others category were still affected by phthalate contamination. Thus, vigilant scrutiny of food safety in modern life is necessary.

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