Benzene found in cooking oil: CF

The CF’s laboratory tests found that Standard Foods’ blended oil product “Great Day” (“得意的一天”) contained benzene exceeding 5 parts per billion (ppb).

The revelation comes amid heightened scrutiny on products following high-profile food safety scandals on the island since 2014, including a rash of tainted oil scares.

At a press conference, CF laboratory director Lin Yong-chien (凌永健) said that benzene as a toxic chemical could cause drowsiness, dizziness and even loss of consciousness.

Long-term exposure to the chemical can cause anemia and leukemia, he said.

World Health Organization sets a maximum permissible level for benzene in drinking water — 10 ppb — while the U.S. and Taiwan have adopted a more stringent standard of 5 ppb.

Restrictions for benzene contaminant in water are strictest in the European Union, at 1 ppb.

The CF conducted tests on 10 brands and approximately 100 consumer oil products, some of which had benzene content in the double digits, he said.

He criticized local health agencies for their failure to act, even though CF had sent test results to local governments.

In response to the CF, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said its own laboratory tests showed that benzene levels were less than the 5 ppb limit.

Two samples from Standard Foods products tested at 3.8 and 4.0 ppb, while one sample contained none.

The FDA added that benzene was prevalent in the environment and that consumers should not “panic excessively.”

Meanwhile, a Standard Foods spokesman said that the company’s products were completely safe and made in accordance with government health regulations.

The company said benzene could be found in the environment and that trace amounts were in air and water, as well as in human breast milk.

“People do not need to be alarmed at hearing the name of chemicals. We don’t stop breathing and drinking if there’s benzene in the air or water,” the company official said.

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