Health ministry to investigate polystyrene food containers

Following China’s move to prohibit polystyrene foam containers for carryout food as they contain a chemical that can cause cancer, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has ordered its sub-divisions to strictly investigate the packages, said a health official.

Experts have warned that polystyrene packaging should not be used for containing hot food as toxic chemicals in the foam can leach out

Nguyen Cong Khan, head of the Food Safety and Hygiene Department under the Ministry of Health, March 30 issued an inquiry into the containers.

Mr. Khan said that Chinese polystyrene containers have long been used to import fruit into Vietnam, but for carryout food, Vietnam only uses domestically made containers.

The country’s Quality Assurance and Testing Center III said it is currently only testing foreign-made disposable foam food packages.

The packages are made of polystyrene, a highly flammable material that contains a chemical called benzene, a known human carcinogen.

Scientists advise that polystyrene foam packaging should not be used to contain hot food as the chemicals can leach out. However, Vietnamese regularly use the containers to hold hot food.

The National Institute for Testing Food Hygiene and Safety has taken samples of polystyrene foam food packages for tests and says it will issue public warnings if it discovers they pose a health threat.

By Tuong Lam - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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