Melamine fears unfounded

PETALING JAYA: The recent melamine-in-milk scare has caused another round of panic among consumers, who worry that using melamine made utensils would poison their food.

While experts have said there should be no cause for undue concern, consumer officials advised the people to stop using plastics to wrap food.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) adviser Dr T. Jayabalan, who is a member of the National Poison Centre, said melamine ware such as plates and ladles were safe for use, “and would not result in death.”

“Even if the melamine utensils leach residue due to extremely high temperatures, it is in a very tiny quantity,” added Dr Jayabalan, who likened this amount to a cube of sugar in a lake.

Melamine is used to make plastic kitchen utensils and plates which are similar in appearance to porcelain.

It is a thermosetting plastic which does not modify in form until exposed to a temperature of above 200°C.

However, Dr Jayabalan urged consumers to avoid using plastic bags, polystyrene boxes and cling wrap to package their food.

“When exposed to high heat from food, the plastic could leach and release chemicals which may disrupt the human reproductive system and affect hormone production,” he said.

“We may not be able to see the effects immediately, but our children will be at risk of mutation and even sex changes,” added Dr Jayabalan, who is also a National Poison Centre member.

Muslim Consumer Association of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Dr Ma’amor Osman advised consumers to stay away from plastic completely, be it dining in restaurants or buying back food.

“Consumers should use their own containers such as stainless steel tins if they want to bring food home and request for clay or glass cutlery in restaurants,” he said.

“It is our right as a consumer to be served in a good and healthy way,” added Dr Ma’amor.

He said labels should be placed on containers to clearly state any warnings, what it is made of and whether it is microwave-safe.

Fomca chief executive officer Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman hoped the authorities would conduct more research to determine what is safe for consumers to ease their doubts.

“The Government could also ask hawkers and traders to abstain from using plastic for the time being as it may be hazardous to health,” he added.

Char koay teow seller Lim Cheng Joo, 35, said customers were being health conscious by bringing their own metal containers for take-aways instead of accepting plastic bags and polystyrene boxes.

Source: thestar.com.my