SINGAPORE - Self-heating Sichuan spiced hotpots might be numbingly delicious but the use of plastic containers to cook the meal has been questioned by some people.
Is it safe to eat food from a plastic container-like pot that has been exposed to heat for more than 15 minutes?
The latest craze for the instant hotpot sees the use of a heat pack that produces enough heat in a plastic box when water is added to it.
Then, another plastic box of the ingredients is placed over the first box and covered with a plastic lid to allow the hot steam to cook the ingredients for 15 to 20 minutes.
And, you'd probably need another 15 minutes to enjoy the food from the plastic container, which is still hot, having absorbed the heat while sitting on top of the first container like a double-boiler.
Unlike instant noodles which only require a few minutes to cook in containers now mostly made of paper instead of plastic, the instant hotpots are giving some apprehension to health-conscious consumers.
Studies done in recent years have found that exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals in plastic products can lead to lower IQ, adult obesity and male infertility, among other health issues, according to a Straits Times report.
In 2015, researchers made the following conclusions on their harmful effects following their study:
OBESITY: Prenatal exposure to Bisphenol A chemical, or BPA - an endocrine disruptor - had a 20 to 69 per cent probability of causing 42,400 new cases of childhood obesity annually.
IQ LOSS: A 70 to 100 per cent likelihood that IQ loss is linked to exposure to organophosphate - which is commonly used to increase the plasticity or fluidity of a material.
INFERTILITY: Male infertility was also linked to phthalate - a group of chemicals used in plastics with 40 to 69 per cent probability of causing 618,000 additional assisted reproductive technology procedures annually in Europe.
So be aware of these potential risks when you're thinking of heating or cooking food in a plastic container, whether it's the instant hotpot or a takeaway curry puff in a plastic bag.