JEDDAH — The prolific usage of plastic bags in our daily life has led to environmental hazards as plastic bags are not bio-degradable, said Ali Eshki, a professor of ecology at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.
He said usage of plastic bags for hot edible items may cause health hazards to consumers sand said the danger arises when the wrong type of plastic is used, as chemical exchange between plastic and food can be maximized by high temperature and the nature of the food.
He said certain plastic bags may cause chemical filtration into the foods. Those chemicals include Styrene, Bisphenol A and Phthalates which can cause cancer, heart diseases and reproductive issues.
He stated that plastics are divided into two major categories: thermo sets and thermoplastic. Thermo sets are more durable and stronger and are used primarily in automobiles, construction applications, adhesives, inks and coatings. Thermoplastics are softer and weaker and used to produce milk cartons, floor coverings, and carpet fibers.
He said according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) these plastics are defined as “Food Contact substances”. Some of the toxins could migrate from the plastic to the substances they hold.
The most common food interactions are the migration of low molecular weight substances such as stabilizers, plasticizers, antioxidants, and monomers from plastic packing materials in food.
Plastic bags from food outlets or hawkers do not carry any plastic identification code to prove whether it is safe for hot foods, and it is left to the consumer to determine whether the items are safe to consume.
He said a study showed that there is a close correlation between the chemical contents of plastic and the rate of diabetes in the Kingdom, charging that some consumers use such plastic in microwaves for cooking and heating.
He warned that water in plastic containers is unfit for human consumption because the containers are usually exposed to direct sunlight when they are loaded onto trucks. – SG