TALLINN – Although the sale of food contact plastic products containing bamboo is prohibited also in Estonia, the Agriculture and Food Board has found that there are still products on the market whose safety is not guaranteed.
European countries have joined forces to banish bamboo plastic food contact products from their stores, spokespeople for the Agriculture and Food Board said on Wednesday.
Margot Paavel, chief specialist at the food department of the Agriculture and Food Board, said the agency sent out information letters last year to more than 4,000 food service, retail and manufacturing companies across Estonia about the risks posed by melamine products containing bamboo and the need to stop selling them.
"In Estonia, 1,815 companies were inspected to make sure that bamboo plastic products are not sold. In 56 online stores, prohibited products were identified, which were removed from sale," Paavel said.
Such retailers were ordered to remove the unsafe products from sale, recall the items already sold and inform consumers about the dangers related to such products.
Unsafe plastic products are made from a mixture of plastic polymers and plant fibers, the latter being derived from materials such as bamboo, wheat, corn, or rice.
"In case you have bought a bamboo plastic product for your home, you should throw it away because there is no certainty that it is safe," Paavel said.
It is generally not difficult to say whether a product is made from bamboo-melamine.
"If, when you touch the plastic product, you can feel that it is not completely smooth, but has the appearance of plastic, then it probably contains some filler of plant origin. Products made entirely of bamboo retain the natural structure and appearance of the material," the official said.
Across Europe, 748 cases were identified during the year where food contact plastics contained bamboo powder. In total, thousands of potentially dangerous products were withdrawn from the market.
For example, coffee cups made in China containing bamboo fibers were found to contain 3.5 times the permitted concentration of melamine and 25 times the permitted level of formaldehyde. Cooperation between countries of Europe will continue in order to remove potentially dangerous products from the market.
Officials say that while such food contact products do not pose a direct health risk, constant exposure to higher amounts of formaldehyde and melamine can cause health problems.