Popular tea beverage found to be free of harmful chemicals

BY JENNIFER YUE

 

A scrumptious beverage known as bubble tea may contain potential health risks in the tea’s tapioca pearls. However, the results were refuted by a consumer protection agency in a second study.

The University Hospital of Aachen in Germany found the tapioca starch to be carcinogenic in an August study. Researchers from the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the University Hospital detected polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs such as styrene, acetophenone and brominate in the pearls. The bubble tea sampled was sold in an unnamed chain in northwest Germany, using bubbles from Taiwan.

PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.

In response to the August study, a German consumer protection agency of Nordrhein-Westfalen tested 84 bubble tea samples and found no carcinogens.

A Taiwanese manufacturer of tapioca pearls questioned the initial findings. Chun-Feng Wang, chairman of Possmei Corp., denied that the company’s products contained carcinogens. He also questioned why there were no brand names or test procedures specified.

The Taiwanese Food and Drug Administration said local tapioca pearls do not include PCBs. It also asked how the August test was done, as PCBs are present in water.

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