PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Disposable plastic food containers and water bottles should be disposed of after single use, an expert has cautioned.
Universiti Malaya toxicologist Prof Dr Mustafa Ali Mohd said people should not re-use such disposable items as there were health hazards.
"If the plastic containers are re-used many times, harmful chemicals could leach into the food," he said, adding that plastic bags should also not be used to pack hot soups or drinks.
He said harder plastic containers usually contained bisphenol A (BPA) while the softer containers contain phthalates, both of which could disrupt the endocrine system.
BPA could cause delay in puberty development while phthalates could cause obesity, he said.
In a study dividing the subjects based on their urinary concentrations of BPA, researchers found obesity odds increased with higher levels of the chemical.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups in July last year due to concerns that the chemical could interfere with a child's development.
Dr Mustafa said plastic feeding bottles should be changed once every three months and earlier if they become scratched or cloudy in colour.
On a study he carried out on 200 babies in the Klang Valley, he said 88 per cent of them had BPA in their blood and this included newborns, suggesting that it was transferred from their mothers who were exposed to it.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) research officer Hatijah Hashim said CAP was totally against the use of plastics for storing food.
She said besides affecting human health, such plastics were made from non-renewable resources and were harmful to the environment.
Hatijah said people could use stainless steel tiffin carriers to pack food and stainless steel or glass bottles to store drinking water.