Doubts arise over Styrofoam safety conclusion

After the National Institute for Testing Food Hygiene and Safety recently announced that polystyrene foam food packages produced in Vietnam don’t pose a health threat, the public has expressed doubts over the findings.

The public has expressed doubts over the findings polystyrene foam food packages produced in Vietnam don’t pose a health threat

Some have suggested that the institute only carried out the tests as a way of placating the public after Hong Kong’s International Food Packaging Association announced that half of all food containers manufactured in China, including paper, plastic and styrofoam ones, contained large amounts of carcinogens.

The Vietnamese food-testing institute carried out the tests on 51 package samples – manufactured domestically – from roadside eateries in Hanoi and reported that the products were safe.

Popular public opinion is that the institute tested an inappropriately small sample size, as thousands of small-scale Vietnamese and foreign companies manufacture take-away food packages that are used abundantly in local markets.

Moreover, the country’s Quality Assurance and Testing Center III said that only foreign-made foam food packages are regularly subjected to safety testing. This has fuelled public suspicion that the tests on local products were merely carried out to quell public anxiety.

Experts are advising people not to use styrofoam packages to contain hot food.

Vu Tan Canh, a polymer and composite engineer from the Vietnam Institute of Science and Technology, said the main material used in styrofoam boxes is polystyrene, one of the most widely used plastics.

When exposed to hot substances, polystyrene can release toxins that can damage the liver and cause several diseases, Canh said.

Related articles:
Health ministry to investigate polystyrene food containers

Tests find foam food packages safe in Vietnam: official

By T. Kien - translated by Uyen Phuong

Other news