PETALING JAYA - The Malaysian Plastics Forum (MPF) is refuting claims that plastic food wrappers and containers are unsafe when used to hold or wrap hot foodstuff.
MPF education and awareness chairman Ahmad Khairuddin Sha'aban said plastic wrappers and containers do not leach harmful chemicals even in boiling water.
Ahmad, who defended the use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic to hold food, said the material can withstand heat of up to 110°C to 120°C.
He said that a test on a plastic bag containing hot teh tarik (at 80°C) for hours showed no significant leaching (in terms of weight loss) and no heavy metals detected in the leachate.
"When they make the plastic, it is meant for food contact and there are food safety requirements that we adhere to. Plastics for food contact applications need to pass the standards," he said.
Ahmad said that HDPE food grade is compliant with the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criteria for food contact use, food storage as well as cooking.
He also said that a peer-reviewed study on BPA funded and conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency had shown that female rodents exposed to BPA and ethinylestradiol (EE2) in the womb did not show any effects on the range of reproductive functions and behavioural activities from low-dose exposures.
He said the results were published in the Toxicological Sciences journal on Oct 28, 2009.
On water left in a plastic bottle in the sun at above 30°C going off taste, he said that taste did not determine the safety level.
He also said that plastics also did not cause harm when in contact with acidic food as it was inert and would not react with acids.
Last week, Universiti Malaya toxicologist Prof Dr Mustafa Ali Mohd said the Government should look into the use of paper wrappers for foodstuff to replace the plastics used because plastic wrappers were not only bad for the environment but many had compounds not yet verified as safe.
He said Bisphenol A, which is still being used in most plastic material (despite a ban in baby bottle use), cooking material and the lining in soft drinks cans to prevent rusting, was known to affect the oestrogen receptor in women.
Dr Mustafa's remarks came about following Selangor government's ban on polystyrene food packaging and plastic bags at retailers from this month.
Ahmad said that the polystyrene ban was not about safety but littering and the MPF was working with various parties to reduce, reuse and recycle.