Warnings about ‘eco’ coffee cups posing health risks with toxic resin | Food and beverage industry


Charities and retailers are selling “eco-friendly” bamboo cups and children’s tableware containing plastic resin, despite warnings that eco-friendly claims can be misleading and the products may pose a health risk.

Bamboo “eco cups” are promoted as helping to protect the planet, but they are typically not recyclable. Regulators warn that green claims may be misleading consumers into using products they believe are sustainable.

There is also concern that the products could allow accelerated degradation of the plastic they can contaminate food or drink and can pose a health risk. He Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it had advised retailers to withdraw the products in June and that any further sales would be illegal.

Despite the ban, bamboo and plastic products are still widely available online, including children’s cups and plates. They are typically made from bamboo, with a melamine formaldehyde resin, and look like plastic.

WWF-UK, the wildlife charity, last week sold a reusable bamboo cup for £7.50, which it says “helps protect our planet”. It stated on its website: “Our organically sourced bamboo fiber mug is grown with minimal impact on the environment.” The cup with panda design contains 20% melamine. WWF-UK advises buyers to check with local councils where they can be recycled.

WWF-UK said disposable cups had a negative impact on the environment and tests had shown its bamboo cups were safe for the consumer. But after he was approached by the Observer He removed the glass from the sale.

Another charity, Wild Planet Trust, which runs Paignton Zoo in Devon and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, sells a Tiger travel mug for £8.99, made from bamboo, corn dust and melamine. The trust said this weekend it was investigating the product, which it had withdrawn from sale.

Several online retailers continue to sell bamboo and melamine tableware for children. Online marketplace Etsy last week sold a Roarsome dinosaur dinnerware set for £12 and a bamboo dinnerware set decorated with tractors and fire trucks also for £12. The online retailer did not respond to a request for comment.

Another retailer, Caroline Gardner, was last week selling a dispersed “eco” bamboo travel mug for £6.25, with 25% melamine. Caroline Gardner said that last year she had “quickly moved away from bamboo cups” when she understood the implications and some remaining cups were put on sale by mistake. These have already been removed and will be destroyed, the company said.

Amazon does not allow its retailers to sell bamboo and melamine cups or tableware products. The online giant said it had made the decision to ban sales about two years ago. Tableware made from 100% bamboo or 100% melamine is allowed to be sold under EU regulations that still apply in the UK in relation to products used for food.

Concerns about bamboo products mixed with plastic were raised in November 2019 after tests by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, which warned that “bamboo” products could release melamine and formaldehyde when filled with hot liquids. such as tea, coffee or baby formula. It said the formaldehyde release from a few cups would exceed the tolerable daily intake by 30 times for adults and 120 times for young children. There is no serious health risk from these bamboo products, but repeated exposure to high levels of melamine and formaldehyde can be a health risk, and melamine is linked to toxic effects on the kidneys.

Last November, the European Commission warned that tableware containing bamboo and other unauthorized additives had not been safely tested according to regulations and was illegal to sell.

In the United Kingdom, the FSA said in June that the Committee on Toxicity, an independent scientific advisory body, had concluded that the migration of formaldehyde and melamine from bamboo composite glasses is a potential concern for human health and that a more thorough risk assessment should be carried out.

Some suppliers have already carried out their own tests, which they claim show that their products do not pose any health risks. The FSA is now consulting on the products and asking manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to submit any relevant information.

The FSA said: “Anyone who markets these products could be committing an offense as these products contain unauthorized additives. The FSA has taken steps to bring the market back into compliance with rules, similar to those adopted in the EU.

“Companies selling these items are reminded that plastic food contact items containing unauthorized plant additives, such as bamboo dust, should be removed from the market with immediate effect.”

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