PETALING JAYA: A toxicology expert lauds the move by the Selangor government to ban the use of polystyrene food packaging and plastic bags by retailers but says more should be done by the federal government as well.
Universiti Malaya toxicologist Prof Mustafa Ali Mohd said the use of plastic wrappers and packets for the packing of food was not only bad for the environment but had many compounds that were also bad for our health, The Star reported.
“Such plastic wrappers and packets contain Bisphenol A (BPA) and newer types Bisphenol B (BPB), Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol AF (BPAF).
“These may affect the endocrine system in the long term and can also lead to fertility and thyroid problems, as well as diabetes,” Mustafa was quoted as saying by the daily.
He added that phthalates, chemicals used in making plastics, had also been linked to obesity.
Calling for the government to look into the use of paper wrappers for foodstuff to replace the plastics used now, Mustafa said that bisphenols make plastic stronger and prevent yellowing in the products but the substances could leach when in contact with fat, such as that in meat and milk.
“They can react with food having a strong acidic content, such as assam and lime juice.
“The chemicals can also leach when hot liquids, such as teh tarik or coffee, is poured into a plastic container,” he said, according to The Star.
There has been a worldwide ban on the use of Bisphenol A(BPA) in the manufacturing of feeding bottles for babies since 2012.
However, Mustafa said the chemical was still used in making other plastic products, such as containers and wrappers.
He added that BPA prevents rusting and as such is used to line the inside of cans and in other packaging products but it is known to affect the estrogen receptor in women.
“A change to paper-based food wrappers and safer food containers would complement the ban currently enforced by the Selangor government,” he was quoted as saying.
He also recommended using glass or Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles to store food.
“PET was still a plastic but did not contain Bishphenol or phthalates,” The Star quoted him as saying.