Dangerous formaldehyde in bamboo coffee to go cups
Reusable-to-go cups protect the environment better than paper cups for throwing away, for example. However, if the environmentally conscious consumer relies on cups made from renewable bamboo for his coffee enjoyment, he can endanger his health.
Germans love coffee
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in Germany. Every German citizen drinks an average of over 160 liters per year. The stimulant was long considered harmful to health, but today we know that the popular hot beverage is healthier than is often assumed. But if you drink your coffee from bamboo coffee-to-go cups, you may endanger your health.
Almost all samples objected
Older studies have shown that coffee to go paper cups are often toxic to health.
And there are also dangers lurking in reusable-to-go cups made of bamboo: As Saarland Minister for Environment and Consumer Protection, Reinhold Jost, said, "caution is advisable with coffee-to-go cups that are advertised as bamboo cups".
"In a special campaign, we had reusable bamboo tableware - mugs, bowls, breakfast boards - examined by our state office for consumer protection (LAV)," said the Environment Minister, according to a message from the Saarland consumer center.
"With the result that 14 out of 15 samples were objected to and should never have been sold," said Jost.
Although reusable cups and plates made of bamboo are offered by many suppliers as an alternative to plastic, it is often concealed that plastics such as melamine or formaldehyde resins are also included in addition to bamboo.
Under certain conditions, such as heat or exposure to acid, formaldehyde can be released into the food.
According to the information, one of the coffee-to-go cups examined by the LAV exceeded the legal maximum by ten times. According to experts, formaldehyde is thought to be carcinogenic.
"Formaldehyde is harmful to health, it irritates the mucous membranes and can cause cancer in the nasopharynx if it is inhaled," the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) reported years ago.
In the past few months, formaldehyde contained has been the reason why a cheap discounter and furniture store have taken toxic dishes out of the range or called them back.
Minister speaks of consumer deception
14 of the 15 samples examined by the Saarland LAV were objected to due to their material composition.
According to the consumer advice center, these were plastic products that contained bamboo fibers and corn flour as fillers.
Since melamine-formaldehyde resin was used as the shaping component, the products fall under the European Plastics Regulation (EU) No. 10/2011 and may only contain substances that are listed in this regulation.
However, bamboo fibers and corn flour are not listed there and are therefore not approved for use in plastic food contact materials.
In addition, the product name or presentation was classified as misleading in ten of the samples examined.
According to consumer advocates, these cups and bowls are difficult or impossible to recognize for consumers that they are products that consist to a large extent of plastic (melamine-formaldehyde resin) and that they are not pure natural products made from bamboo acts.
"Here buyers are promised a product made of bamboo, what they get is a plastic product with bamboo parts, that is consumer deception. We will continue to keep an eye on the bamboo melamine tableware in retail stores, ”said Jost.
Alternatives to bamboo dishes
"Consumers rightly expect safe and sustainable materials," said Theresia Weimar-Ehl from the consumer center.
The expert generally advises to only buy products for which the manufacturer specifies the type of materials used. There are good alternatives to bamboo dishes.
Weimar-Ehl recommends stainless steel, glass and porcelain for contact with food and hot drinks. "Thermo cups also have the advantage that they keep the drink warm."
Plastic is not generally bad for the environment or health, provided that it is used for a long time and does not release any pollutants into the food. There is nothing against polypropylene (PP) as a reusable cup.
Polyethylene (PE) is also suitable for objects such as mixing bowls that are not heated. You should always pay attention to the information on safe use, for example heat resistance. (ad)