Even though we can’t get enough of the stuff, the lazi yu (spicy fish soup) from our local Sichuan restaurant tends to pose something of a health hazard for Shanghaiist — at least for around 24 hours after digestion.
Of more concern is a new report which suggests that much of the recycled plastic materials which are used by restaurants nationwide in making takeaway boxes and throwaway spoons and bowls may be carcinogenic. An investigation by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has revealed that around half of these products are made from unsafe materials, including calcium carbonate, paraffin wax and, um, talcum powder. (Unsafe? Sounds like we’d better clean out that bathroom cabinet …).
[Dong Jinshi, vice-director of the Packing Resources Utilization Commission of the China Packing Association] said that in the more than 100 enterprise places he visited in Tianjin and Shanghai municipalities and Henan and Liaoning provinces, 60 per cent of the products are not suitable for human use.
According to the China Daily story, the unsafe materials are being used in place of considerably more expensive polypropylene:
One ton of polypropylene costs 11,000 yuan (US$1,300) while the same quantity of unsafe materials are available for less than 2,000 yuan (US$240).
And how many tons are we talking? Well, around 6.5 billion pieces of disposable plastic tableware are used every year in China. We’re guessing that’s lots of tons.
Wherever possible, we at Shanghaiist like to eat with our hands. This is not a manifestation of cultural heritage, just sheer gluttony. But on hearing today’s news, it’s a trend we intend to maintain.
Can’t talk … eating.