From: Reuters
Published November 8, 2005 12:00 AM

Half China Fast-Food Containers Health Hazard, Paper Says

BEIJING — Half the disposable fast-food containers, bowls and spoons used in China are hazardous to health, the China Daily said, quoting the results of a nationwide investigation.


Too much recycled plastic and "unsafe materials" were used to produce throwaway tableware, Dong Jinshi, vice-director of the Packing Resources Utilisation Commission of the China Packing Association, was quoted as saying.


Chinese use about 6.5 billion pieces of disposable plastic tableware annually. Plastic food wrappers containing a dangerous material DEHA were banned nationwide last month.


"Overuse of recycled plastic and materials such as talcum powder and calcium carbonate can generate chemicals that can cause cancer if they come in contact with hot food and oil," the newspaper said.


"And if industrial paraffin wax is used in the manufacturing process, it can be carcinogenic."


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Chemicals such as acetic acid dissolved in food and affected the digestive system and liver function if used over a long time, Dong was quoted as saying.


The unsafe materials are widely used in place of polypropylene, which should account for up to about 80 per cent of the product for it to be safe.


"However, the investigation found that polypropylene makes up only half the amount of raw materials, mainly because it is far more expensive," the newspaper said.


Dong said that in the more than 100 "enterprise places" he visited in the cities of Tianjin and Shanghai and the provinces of Henan and Liaoning 60 per cent of the products were unsuitable for human use.


Billions of dollars' worth of counterfeit and substandard goods, from high-proof spirits to luxury handbags, are produced every year in China.


At least 13 Chinese babies died in 2004 of malnutrition from drinking fake milk powder.


The latest health warning followed a nationwide investigation by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.


Source: Reuters


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