Is Bubble Tea Safe?
Bubble tea has become an incredibly popular drink around the world however there are still some people who are skeptical on how safe it actually is. While it’s true that some tapioca pearls were contaminated with Maleic Acid, the fact is is that the majority of tapioca pearls were manufactured correctly and since the scandal, manufacturers are required to provide strict SGS testing certifications.
Taiwan’s Food Safety Scandal
In May 2012 Taiwan’s food and beverage industry was hit by a devastating food scandal. Some drink producers were trying to save a few bucks by adding a carcinogenic chemical known as “plasticizer” or DEHP. This chemical is traditionally used to make plastic but some shady drink manufacturers realized that it could be used as a drink stabilizer and started putting it into many bottled drinks and syrups. Some of these drinks and syrups were exported to the US and Europe and were promptly banned when word of the scandal got out. Now the Taiwanese FDA has new stringent guidelines and testing procedures making it harder for illicit manufacturers to get away with such practices. “Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration confirmed in September that in a second round of tests conducted by German authorities, Taiwanese bubble tea was found to be free of cancer-causing chemicals.”
Skip ahead only two years and the bubble tea community is rocked again by “Boba-Gate”. This time, maelic acid was the culprit and it was directly affecting the delicious pearls that make bubble tea. Again, an unscrupulous manufacturer tried to cut corners and save a few dollars by mixing this with boba.
“Maleic acid is a dicarboxylic acid. It is mainly used as a detergent in surface cleaning! It’s applications include being used as sizing agents for the textile industry, photographical chemicals for quick-photo processing, making maleate salts in the pharmaceutical industry, dying auxiliary, and as an oil and fat preservative. It is also used for manufacturing polyester resins, pesticides, tartaric acid, and succinic acid!”
This industrial cleaner should obviously not be anywhere near food and it is absolutely despicable that anyone would ever try to profit by slowly poisoning massive groups of people. Unfortunately this is a problem no matter where you are in the world. From unsafe lead levels in toys from China, GMOs, bleached McDonalds hamburger meat all the way to whatever they put in hot dogs. Your food, clothes, toys etc are only as safe as the agencies that regulate them are. So if you’re worried about what’s in your boba make sure that you ask to see some proof of testing. Here is an example of a major chain providing a certificate of testing by the SGS in Taiwan.
Fortunately, once the dust has settled and all the ingredients have been rigorously tested, Boba is probably the safest that it’s ever been. Big chains are unwilling to take the risk of another controversy and now demand regular and proper testing on all supplies.
Bubble Tea Nutritional Information:
I’ve had lots of people asking the same question, “What is boba, exactly?”.
They are basically just little balls of starch or carbohydrates. Check out the nutritional information for uncooked boba below. Basically, a serving of boba will have 110 calories and 27g of carbs. No fat, no protein and a negligible amount of sodium. This makes it a pretty harmless indulgence and shouldn’t be a problem for someone who gets their boba “fix” a few times a week.
Boba Nutrition Info:
1/3 cup (50g)
Sodium 60mg 3%
Total carb 27g 9%
Dietary fiber 1g 3%
Tapioca Pearl Ingredients
sodium carboxy methylcellulose(CMC)