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Friday, 7 September 2012

Bubble tea ‘pearls’ found to have PCB's -

Bubble tea ‘pearls’ found to have PCB's - 

Researchers in Germany are raising alarm bells about a popular drink.

Bubble tea, the sweet tea-based drink with tapioca pearls or “bubbles” mixed in, is found at tea shops around Toronto.

Researchers detected PCBs in samples of pearls taken from a store in a national chain in Germany, Manfred Möller of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine told the German newspaper Rheinische Post. Möller analyzes samples of dangerous additives in food.

German officials are investigating whether bubble tea violates the country’s food safety laws, the newspaper reported.

The manager of the store told Rheinische Post they buy the pearls from Taiwan. There’s no indication the same pearls are used in bubble tea sold in Toronto.

PCBs, short for polychlorinated biphenyls, are 209 similar chemicals once widely used in substances like ink and paint until they were banned in the 1970s.

Most people are exposed to low levels of PCBs because they’re found in many foods, Health Canada says. The chemicals don’t break down easily and can accumulate in the body over time.

High exposure to PCBs can put someone at a higher risk of getting cancer, particularly liver or kidney cancer, Health Canada says.

In August, Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment issueda warning about bubble tea.

It says the pearls, which have “a soft, rubbery consistency,” could become lodged in a child’s respiratory tract if sucked up through a straw.

The warning recommends businesses selling bubble tea make “a clear reference to this health risk.”


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