Malic Acid Should Not Be Confused With Maleic Acid

The following products of Taiwan are currently under ban.

1. Hong Tapioca Starch
2. Redman Black Tapioca Pearl
3. Sun Right Indica Rice Powder
4. Top 1 Tapioca Pearls
5. Tea World Tapioca Starch Ball
6. Unbranded Starch Ball
7. Ding Long Tapioca Pearls
8. Sun Chi Noodles
9. T & M Resources Corp Tapioca Pearls
10. Pure Tea Tapioca Pearls (White)
11. Pure Tea Tapioca Pearls (Black)
12. Full Free Green Tea Tapioca Ball
13. Full Free Yam Tapioca Ball
14. Long Kow Vegetarian Instant Rice Noodle
15. Long Kow Rice Noodle with Thick Soup

As per testing done by Agri-Food and Veterinary authority of Singapore, the above mentioned products were found to have maleic acid. The substance is not approved as food ingredient. Its long term intake harms the kidney.

I have seen the advisory once on FDA website and heard it twice from GMA7 News. I first thought it was pointing to popular acidulant, malic acid. It turned out I was wrong.

Maleic Acid should not be confused with Malic Acid. The latter malic acid is not harmful as we might think. It is an organic acid responsible for sour taste of many fruits. The popular example is the guyabano. Sour guyabano variety have more of this acid. It is a popular food acidulant, often replacing citric acid and vinegar. It has wide role in health and skin care products.

The first maleic acid is the culprit. According to, maleic acid has the following uses.

1) manufacture of resins and drying oils
2) synthesis of malic, succinic, aspartic, proprionic, lactic and other acids.
3) pharmaceuticals, plastic, textile & paper chemical industry
4) for oil antioxidants
5) for making drugs like, Pheneramine Maleate and Chloropheneramine maleate
6) for making of polyester resins, surface coatings, copolymers, plasticizers, lubricant additives and agricultural chemicals
7) for adhesives and sealants
8) for dyeing and finishing wool, cotton and silk
9) for making polyesters for fiber-reinforced laminated moldings and paint vehicles

Maleic Acid when hydrated is Malic Acid but the latter has different effects from the first. Malic acid substance might have traces of maleic acid since the latter is used to synthesize the first.

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