Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Test finds one in five melamine resin food containers not safe

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Various dining utensils made of melamine are displayed during a press conference held by the Consumer Protection Committee in Taipei yesterday. The committee warned that a report shows that 20 percent of such products might be harmful.

Photo: Yang Chiu-ying, Taipei Times

Tests on 30 types of melamine resin food containers showed that five contained formaldehyde and one contained amounts of melamine that exceeded safe levels, the Consumer Protection Committee said yesterday, adding that a request had been made to take the products out of circulation.

Melamine resin containers are widely used for storing food and are especially popular in snack bars because they are cheap, heat resistant and shockproof. However, poorly made containers may pose health risks, the committee said.

Consumer ombudsman Wang Teh-ming (王德明) said the committee collected samples of 30 types of melamine food containers and eating utensils from five cities and counties across the nation last month, and commissioned the Department of Health to conduct dissolution tests on the samples and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to inspect the products’ labels.

The test results showed that five containers released formaldehyde and one released excessive amounts of melamine after holding 95°C water for 30 minutes, in violation of the Sanitation Standards for Utensils, Containers and Packages (食品器具容器包裝衛生標準).

Cheng Wei-chih (鄭維智), an official at the department’s Food and Drug Administration, said ingesting too much formaldehyde may harm the stomach or other organs, while melamine ingestion could lead to abnormal concretion or tissue proliferation in the body.

Poor-quality or cracked containers have a high possibility of secreting formaldehyde, melamine, or other toxic heavy metal substances into food, he said, adding that cracked, worn-out and chapped containers should be immediately discarded.

Although melamine resin food containers can resist temperatures of about 120°C, it is best not to use them for boiling-hot food, Wang said, adding that the containers should not be put in microwave ovens, ultra-violet sterilizers, or used in high temperatures. He also said that they should be washed with neutral detergent and not be scrubbed with rough sponges.

Moreover, a product label inspection showed that 28 of the 30 samples did not provide all of the required product information, such as material composition, temperature resistance, manufacturer and caution notices.

The six containers that failed the test as well as the majority of sampled items were made in China.

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