More than 75 percent of major convenience stores, coffee shops and fast food chains continued to use polystyrene cup lids for hot drinks after the material was found to be non-resistant to high temperatures, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors said yesterday, urging Taipei City’s Department of Health to instruct local stores to stop using the lids.
Plastic cup lids made of polystyrene can withstand temperatures of up to 90°C.
The Department of Health (DOH) under the Executive Yuan said polystyrene should be used for non-acidic cold drinks or food, while for hot drinks, stores are advised to use containers made of polypropylene, which can withstand temperatures of up to 140°C and is resistant to acidic, alkaline or alcoholic beverages.
Both polystyrene and polypropylene are legal container materials under the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法), and starting on July 21, business owners will be required to include information on the materials, maximum temperature and manufacture date of the containers on them. However, the act does not mandate the use of polypropylene for all hot drinks.
A random inspection by DPP Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) and Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) found that only four out of 16 convenience stores, coffee chain stores and fast food chains in Taipei used polypropylene cup lids for take-out coffee.
Three major convenience store chains, including FamilyMart, OKmart and Hi-Life, have replaced polystyrene lids with polypropylene lids, and 85°C Bakery Cafe chain also used polypropylene lids for hot drinks.
President Chain Store Corp, which operates the nation’s largest convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, major coffee chains including Starbucks and Mr Brown Coffee, and fast food chains including McDonalds, Mos Burger and KFC continued to use polystyrene cup lids for hot drinks, the inspection found.
“The temperature of a cup of hot coffee can reach 95°C, and using polystyrene lids for high-temperature food can cause users to ingest carcinogens. The stores that still use polystyrene lids are ignoring the health of consumers and before the department takes more actions to ban the use of the harmful material for hot drinks, the city government should do more to protect our residents,” Wu said.
Taipei Food and Drug Division Director Chen Li-chi (陳立奇) said the department has been communicating with 7-Eleven and other local stores on the use of polypropylene lids, and the department will continue to conduct regular inspections on stores citywide to promote the use of polypropylene lids until July.