Risks associated with plastic containers and utensils made with bamboo – advice for caterers
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has advised retailers that due to the risks associated with plastic containers and utensils made with bamboo and similar plant-based materials, they should be removed from sale. It is concerned that the presence of plant-based materials in plastic could trigger the migration of chemicals such as formaldehyde or melamine into foodstuffs above legal levels. Although it is unlikely that the initial use of these products will pose an immediate health risk, the long-term impacts from regular use of such items is uncertain and further research is required.
What types of products may be affected?
Examples of plant-based materials found in plastic include bamboo, hemp, rice husks, or wheat straws. Containers or untensils made solely from plant-based materials (without any plastic) are NOT included.
Commonly identified products made using plastic and plant-based materials include reusable drinking cups; tableware, and cutlery; and chopping boards. It may be difficult to tell whether a product is made from a bamboo-composite rather than 100% bamboo, but they will usually have a smooth surface and the feel of plastic.
Products containing plant-based materials which are being repeatedly exposed to hot or acidic foods or being microwaved carry the highest risk.
What should you do?
- Check the packaging and product specification of any plastic containers or utensils that you use
- Contact the manufacturer or supplier if you are unsure what your plastic containers or utensils are made of
- Remove from use any plastic containers or utensils containing plant-based materials until further advice is issued by the FSA
To obtain more information: https://www.food.gov.uk/news-alerts/news/notice-to-retailers-plastic-containers-or-utensils-containing-bamboo