Tapioca’s in bubble tea can cause cancer?

Bubble tea is, perhaps in my opinion, the best drink in the whole world. There is nothing better than having a cold bubble tea on a hot sunny day. For those of you that don’t know what bubble tea is here is a simple description. Bubble tea is a cold drink made with iced tea, sweetened milk or any other flavor available. It usually comes with sweet little black “pearl” balls called tapioca. Many people love the drink just for its tapioca’s. However, there had been many controversies about the small “pearl” shaped balls.

A report from Germany had showed that the chewy tapioca balls may contain cancer- causing chemicals known as aspolychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. The chemical PCB is a man-made organic chemical manufactured between 1929 and 1979. It has been proven that PCBs can cause cancer. According to scientist Manfred Möller, of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the University Hospital Aachen, who’s doing research on tapioca, stated, “[What we found] includes in particular styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances that shouldn’t be in food at all.”

After the German report, the Taiwanese government quickly became involved. According to the Berkelywellness.com “The Consumer Protection Committee in Taiwan did a round of testing, collecting 22 samples of tapioca pearls from seven manufacturers, and concluded that none contained styrene.” However, acetophenone and brominated biphenyls were found in the tapioca. But, the agency did state that the quantity of these compounds in the tapioca is too small to create any health problems.

Besides the Taiwanese government’s involvement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also joined the research. According to Noah Bartolucci, an FDA spokesperson, “acetophenone and styrene are not PCBs because they are neither chlorinated nor biphenyls.” Turned out acetophenone and styrene are aromatic compounds and they are not toxic at all. These compounds are not even classified as PCBs and are legal food flavoring substances.

So there you have it, tapioca’s are indeed safe to consume. Next time you’re craving tapiocas, feel free to eat as many as you want.

bubble tea

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/05/bubble-tea-tapioca-pearls-may-cause-cancer-study-claims_n_1856152.html

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food-safety/article/tapioca-pearl-problems

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