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Surprise: Bamboo Cups Could Spice Up Your Hot Beverage With Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde

Surprise: Bamboo Cups Could Spice Up Your Hot Beverage With Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) published a press release [2] on November 25, 2019, warning consumers from using cups and bowls made with melamine-formaldehyde resin for hot drinks or hot food.

Melamine-formaldehyde resin is used for making melamine tableware, but also for reusable Bamboo cups which often contain this compound as glue which binds the bamboo fibers.

The BfR reviewed studies [3] on hundreds of cups and bowls, and found that at high temperatures melamine (which may harm the kidneys [4, 5]) and formaldehyde (which is a known carcinogen: a substance that can cause cancer [6]) migrate from the material into the food or drink. The migration was up to 30% higher in bamboo goods compared to all-melamine tableware.

According to the BfR, in some cases the amount of formaldehyde that migrated exceeded the safety level set by the European Food Safety Authority by up to 120 (!!) times for children, and by 30 times for adults. The amount of melamine found exceeded the safety level for toddlers by 3 times, and did not exceed the safety level for adults.

The BfR’s conclusion was that consumers should not eat or drink hot food or beverages from melamine resin tableware.

As a reminder, BfR previously recommended consumers not to use this kind of tableware in microwaves, due to melamine and formaldehyde migration [7].

If you’re asking yourself how have your coffee on the go now - we suggest using glass or stainless steel!

If you read this, you may also be interested in Clearya's review on the hidden risks of "BPA-Free" plastic, or in the Clearya iPhone app, Android app, or Chrome extension, which automatically check ingredients safety in your daily products, while you shop online.

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Disclaimer: the content in this blog post is provided for general information, and does not substitute any medical advice by your own doctor or another health care professional. Contact hello@clearya.com for questions or comments.

References

  1. The Food Packaging Forum on the BfR statement: https://www.foodpackagingforum.org/news/bfr-statement-on-bamboo-cups-and-tableware
  2. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), press release, 2019: https://www.bfr.bund.de/de/presseinformation/2019/47/geschirr_aus_bambusware_nicht_fuer_heisse_getraenke_oder_speisen_nutzen-243171.html
  3. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), position statement, 2019: https://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/343/gefaesse-aus-melamin-formaldehyd-harz.pdf
  4. The World Health Organization, Questions and Answers on melamine: https://www.who.int/csr/media/faq/QAmelamine/en/
  5. The European Food Safety Authority, Scientific Opinion on Melamine in Food and Feed: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1573
  6. The U.S. National Toxicology Program, Department of Health and Human Services, report on carcinogens, https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/formaldehyde.pdf
  7. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), opinion on release of melamine and formaldehyde from dishes and kitchen utensils, 2011: https://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/349/release_of_melamine_and_formaldehyde_from_dishes_and_kitchen_utensils.pdf
  8. Photo by Markus Spiske