German BfR warns over potential health risks posed by bamboo cups and tableware

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German BfR warns over potential health risks posed by bamboo cups and tableware

November 28, 2019 - 09:12

BRUSSELS, Nov. 28, 2019 (Fastmarkets RISI) -The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has raised concerns over the potential health risks posed by food contact materials (FCMs) made of melamine-formaldehyde resin (MFH). These include re-useable to-go coffee cups and tableware made with bamboo fibers.

In a position paper released earlier this week, the BfR warns consumers against using these tableware with hot liquids. “The reason is that at higher temperatures, hazardous melamine and formaldehyde can migrate from the material into food,” the BfR said.

The institute tested the levels of formaldehyde release from 366 cups, bowls and dishes as well as of melamine from 291 items. The agency compared the results with tolerable daily intake limits (TDIs) set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and found that, in some cases, the limits for formaldehyde were exceeded by up to 30 times for adults and up to 120 times for children. “In many cases, more harmful formaldehyde and melamine are released from ‘bamboo goods’ than from ‘conventional’ melamine resin cups,” the BfR said.

“Concerning melamine releases, adults are not at risk. However, children who often eat hot food from MFH tableware could potentially absorb up to three times the TDI limit for melamine,” the institute said.

The BfR repeated the test on the same product and found an increasing level of melamine released, meaning that the material deteriorates by contact with hot liquids.

The institute advises consumers not to eat or drink hot food or beverages from MFH tableware, and not to use them in microwaves. It also recommends the EU to lower the specific migration limit of formaldehyde set by the European Plastics Regulation No. 10/2011 from the current 15 mg/kg to 6 mg/kg.