Concerns have arisen regarding harmful chemicals that may be used to make popular bubble tea drinks. Boba pearls, milk powder, and juice syrups may contain banned chemical additives in order to reduce costs. In May 2011, a food scandal broke out in Taiwan where DEHP (a chemical plasticizer and potential carcinogen used to make plastic) was found as a stabilizer in drinks and juice syrups. Some of these products may have been exported and used in bubble tea shops in the US and around the world. DEHP can affect hormone balances.
In June 2011, the Health Minister of Malaysia, Liow Tiong Lai, instructed companies selling “Strawberry Syrup,” a material used in some bubble teas, to stop selling them after chemical tests showed they were tainted with a carcinogen identified as DEHP.