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Study results show melamine-ware safe for food use

According to the findings of a risk assessment study conducted by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) to assess the safety of melamine-ware available on local food premises, all the samples tested were found safe for normal food use.

A CFS spokesman said today(November 26) that tableware products made of melamine-formaldehyde resins (generally described as melamine-ware) were widely used around the world due to their durability, good chemical and heat resistance and low cost. To address public concern about the safety of these products, the CFS has recently conducted a study to examine the level of melamine and formaldehyde that may migrate from melamine-ware to food.

"Melamine is of low acute toxicity and formaldehyde occurs naturally in the environment and can be found naturally in small amounts in a wide range of raw foods such as fruit and vegetables, meat and fish. The major safety concern is whether there is excessive migration of the melamine and formaldehyde from tableware made of melamine-formaldehyde resins," the spokesman said.

A total of 61 melamine-ware samples commonly available for use on local food premises obtained either from local food premises direct or from manufacturers or suppliers known to supply such products to local food premises were collected and tested between May 2009 and February 2010.

Test results showed that the levels of both melamine and formaldehyde found in the samples were all below the respective limits specified by the Mainland and the European Committee(EU) testing methods. Besides, no overt difference in the concentration range of melamine and formaldehyde migration among the various categories, brands or sources was noted.

The spokesman said, "The study results also showed that even under experimental conditions that simulated the worse-case scenario, all melamine-ware tested had low levels of migration of melamine and formaldehyde which were well below the Mainland and EU specified migration limits, indicating that all melamine-ware samples tested were of the quality suitable for food use."

Based on the results, the spokesman said, the melamine-ware samples tested were not expected to pose health concern to consumers under normal food use.

Despite these satisfactory findings, people are advised to heed the following advice when using melamine-ware:

* Use melamine-ware according to product specifications and instructions.
* Do not use melamine-ware with a broken or damaged surface.
* Do not heat or cook foods in melamine-ware.
* Do not use melamine-ware in microwave oven or conventional oven.
* Do not use melamine-ware to hold hot oil or highly acidic foods.
* If melamine-ware is to be used for holding hot deep-fried foods, cool the foods down before putting in the melamine-ware.
* Do not use abrasive detergent and cleaning tools or strong chemicals which will damage the surface while cleaning.

The CFS spokesman also urged the food trade to obtain melamine-ware from reliable manufacturers and suppliers, and use melamine-ware of suitable quality to serve food to customers.

Details of the risk assessment study are available on the CFS website www.cfs.gov.hk.

Ends/Friday, November 26, 2010

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Last revision date:26-11-2010