Official pushes ban on potentially hazardous polystyrene containers

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A lawmaker yesterday urged health authorities to ban Styrofoam containers that potentially release toxic chemicals when used to store hot food, such as instant noodles.

Legislator Yang Chiung-ying, speaking at a press conference, noted that China has already banned polystyrene (PS) containers since 2002, and questioned why they are still permitted in Taiwan.

Several instant noodle products were demonstrated at the press conference, with those from China using paper containers and those from Taiwan using Styrofoam ones.

The legislator said toxic PS is released from the containers when heated. She said food vendors must replace the containers with safe ones as soon as possible and must revise the law to ban PS containers.

Wu Chia-cheng, a toxicologist from National Taiwan University, said Styrofoam containers can release large amounts of PS when they contain food or drinks that are hotter than 70 degrees Celsius. Long-term consumption of PS may cause blood cancer, he added.

But an official from the Food and Drug Administration under the Department of Health said only one of the Styrofoam container products tested by the DOH in 2012 failed the requirements. The product was removed from the market and destroyed, the official said.

The official did not directly respond to the legislator's demand that the law be revised to ban Styrofoam containers, according to the United Evening News.