Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 17, 2007

Plastic makers insist food and water containers safe for reuse

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:31 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: Just last week, the Health Ministry advised Malaysians not to reuse plastic food and water containers. Yesterday, the Malaysian Plastics Forum (MPF) insisted that packaging and containers made from plastic and polystyrene are safe to use or for reuse.
Its president Lim Kok Boon said that this was because the raw ingredients used to make the finished products complied with international standards such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
He said that the resin products were approved substances for the manufacturing of food containers and packaging material.
He said it was used in making items such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, adding that hygienic practices applied to the products, regardless of whether they were made of plastic, steel or glass.
The MPF is made up of the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association, the Malaysian Petrochemicals Association and the Plastics Resins Producers Group.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had advised consumers last week not to reuse plastic food and water containers because their quality was “questionable” and Malaysians were at risk of being exposed to chemicals that might have seeped into the food or liquid.
Dr Chua’s statement was based on a study that the ministry had commissioned Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine to carry out.
The study showed that in 45 of the 47 containers examined, at least one chemical was detected. However, the level of the leachate detected was low and the scope was to analyse chemicals in plastic and polystyrene food containers.
Lim said that based on scientific evidence, the FDA had determined that PET was safe for use as beverage bottles and other food packaging applications – for single and repeated use.
When asked how often the resin product manufacturers sent samples for testing to the FDA, Lim conceded that he did not know but stressed that because they were large multinational corporations, they would adhere to the necessary standards.
He said members could on a voluntary basis send their finished products for testing at Sirim Bhd.
In the case of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bags used for packing hot and cold beverages, Lim said the FDA had allowed their use based on data from years of research and testing, and they complied with the Malaysian Food Act 1983 and Malaysian Food Regulations 1985.
He said expandable polystyrene containers had excellent thermal insulating abilities.
“They keep hot food hot and cold food cold, while you hold the package in comfort,” he said, adding that an additional layer of material was not needed to separate the food and container as it was designed to be safe for use.

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