Testing methods for contaminated sports drinks

August 10, 2011

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has developed three new methods to detect an illegal clouding agent that can be found in sports drinks imported from Taiwan.

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has developed three new methods to detect an illegal clouding agent that can be found in sports drinks imported from Taiwan.

In late May, the Taiwanese authorities informed the European Commission that significant amounts of phthalates were illegally added to certain categories of sports drinks. Normally, producers of sports drinks, jelly and fruit pulps use a palm-oil based product to obtain a cloudy appearance, but in this incident, it was largely replaced by two cheaper substances: bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), and di-iso-nonyl phthalate (DINP). DEHP and DINP are commonly used as plasticizers in many plastic products. These chemicals are believed to affect reproductive performance and fertility, and have been linked to developmental problems with children, so that they are prohibited in the production of food, and their use in plastic toys and childcare products is restricted in the EU.

Under a request from the commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumers, the JRC developed and validated three new testing methods that allow the substances to be rapidly and accurately detected.

The methods are available from the JRC website at http://irmm.jrc.ec.europa.eu/activities/phthalates