Disposable chopsticks made in China contain harmful chemicals and should be banned to protect the public and the environment, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said yesterday.
At a press conference, TSU Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) and Chang Hung-lin (張宏林), secretary-general of the Homemaker's Union and Foundation, soaked a pair of Chinese chopsticks in boiling water. After a few seconds, residue -- that the pair claimed was evidence of the presence of harmful chemicals -- was visible in the water.
The pair demanded that the government step up its "active management" of Chinese disposable chopsticks, rather than passively urging people not to use them.
"The government should take the initiative by banning all chopsticks made in China and recalling those those that are already on the market," Lai said.
Lai said about 23 billion sets -- or about 40 percent -- of disposable chopsticks imported each year came from China. Taiwanese use five million disposable chopsticks each day, she added.
Chang said most of the Chinese chopsticks contained traces of harmful chemicals such as lead and sulfur dioxide. People who used the chopsticks risked lung problems, skin allergies and asthma, Chang said.
Tests conducted by the Consumer's Foundation last year found that more than 80 percent of disposable chopsticks on the market contained traces of sulfur dioxide and 90 percent of barbecue skewers contained similar harmful chemicals.
Lai and Chang urged people to use their own chopsticks when dining out.
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