It was weird! I opened the pack of hopia and I saw a small piece of sachet. Sachet label has printed Chinese characters.I cannot read Chinese. Some words are written in English language. It clearly states “DO NOT EAT”.
I got worried. The “DO NOT EAT” statement implies that the thing will cause harm when eaten. Why did the manufacturer include something dangerous in their food product?
I thought the sachet was a desiccant, a silica gel desiccant. I know its a safe substance but still, it is not meant to be included in food package. Someone might mistakenly ate it. They might think it was a candy or flavoring.
I looked again and noticed another series of small words. It states “oxygen absorber keep fresh”.
Oxygen absorber from its name, it absorbs oxygen. The hopia is packed in air tight laminated foil. It has a very poor oxygen permeability. Food spoilage due to rancidity is unlikely. However, residual oxygen might still come in, e.g. through pinholes. The oxygen absorber then comes into play. It extends or further extend the food shelf life.
Most oxygen absorbers are made of iron dust. It reacts to oxygen to form rust. It is packed in special plastic sachet to prevent food contact. But it allows the slow passage of oxygen.
Accidental ingestion of small amounts have no danger.It will be absorbed by the body as iron. Consumption of large quantity or repeated ingestion will bring harm.
I still never want it in food packages. The reason, read the second paragraph.
Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.