1. What is boric acid and it’s use?
Boric acid (H3BO3) is an antiseptic, pesticide and a weak fungicide. It always be used for insect control, wood preservative in furniture industry, glass industry and also in medical field.
2. What is preservative?
Preservative means any substance that, when added to food, is capable of inhibiting, retarding or arresting the process of decomposition, fermentation or acidification of such food shall not include herb, spice, vinegar or wood smoke.
3. What are the preservative that allowed in Food Regulations 1985?
Food Regulations 1985 had listed preservatives (sulphur dioxide, benzoic acid; propionic acid, also its sodium, potassium, calcium salt; sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, potassium nitrate and ptassium nitrite) and antimicrobial (chlorine dioxide and hydrogen peroxide) which are allowed in certain food. BORIC ACID is NOT INCLUDED in the list.
4. What is the offence of using boric acid in food as stated in Food Act 1983?
Boric acid usage as preservative is PROHIBITED as in Malaysian Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985.
5. What is the penalty under the Food Act 1983?
Sub Section 13(1) Food Act 1983 stated that “Any person who prepares or sale any food taht has in or upon it any substance which is poisonous, harmful or othewise injurious to health commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fibe not exceeding one hundred thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to both”.
6. What are the foods that always contain boric acid?
Food s that contain boric acid are pasta type of food, for example;
- Yellow noodles
- Kueh teow
- Loh se fun
- Wantan noodles
- Hokkien noddles
- Bee hoon
- Spring roll wrappers
- Bak chang
7. What are the side effects if boric acid present in food?
Individuals who ate food that contained high level of boric acis will experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, abnormal function of kidney, acute dysfunction of blood circulation and death, depends to the level of boric acid absorbed by the body.
8. How to detect the presence of boric acid in the foods?
Analysis using turmeric water is a crude test to detect the present of boric acid, however the test is not a confirmatory test. It can give a false positive result. In mee processing for example, addition of soda water (Natrium bicarbonate) have been used to get the expected texture. The reaction between soda water and turmeric can cause a changing of colour from yellow to red. However, the colour changing to red is not an approvement to detect the present of boric acid in food. The presence of boric acid can only be confirm through lab analysis.
9. What is the accepted level of boric acid in food?
The presence of boric acid is totally not allowed in food or food product. The presence of boric acid in food or food product is due to unethical attitude of some food producer in which they only think about profit without considering the safety aspect of food to the consumer. Boric acid is used by these food producers to extend the product shelf-life and it freshness.
10. Advise to consumers?
Consumers are advised not to use turmeric water as a test to verify the presence of boric acid. Consumers are required to report to the nearest Health Department incase of doubt pertaining to boric acid contamination.
Modified: April 15, 2013 at 3:42 am