Date
16 December 2017
People should not worry about ingesting pthalates from edible oils as long as these are not in any significant quantity, according to experts. Photo: Consumer Council
People should not worry about ingesting pthalates from edible oils as long as these are not in any significant quantity, according to experts. Photo: Consumer Council

Consumer Council finds phthalates in 41 edible oils

The Consumer Council on Monday urged safety standards for cooking oils sold in Hong Kong after discovering contaminants in over 40 samples.

The call came after tests conducted in February and March examined 60 edible oils commonly found in the market, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The council said 41 samples were found to contain at least one of the five phthalates. Five samples had higher levels.

Phthalates are used to make plasticizers, which are added to plastic products to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.

“As phthalates are oil-soluble, plastics containing phthalates should not be used with oil products,” the council said.

The public, however, need not worry, the council said. A person weighing 60 kilograms may be at risk only if he consumes more than 0.4 kilograms of such cooking oils over an extended period.

Michael Hui King-man, who chairs the council’s publicity and community relations committee, said Hong Kong has no specific safety standards for cooking oils, while the Centre for Food Safety’s level is for reference only but not legally binding.

The government should use international standards to establish regulations on cooking oils sold in Hong Kong so as to raise their product quality, the Consumer Council said.

In response, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said it has conducted public consultations to amend regulations for edible fats and oils. The rule drafting process is under way.

Dr. Fong Lai-ying, a food safety expert at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, said it is “unavoidable” to find phthalates in edible oil products. People need not worry about it as long as they do not take in too much of them, he said.

Fong suggests the use of plastic containers with better quality as a way to reduce the amount of phthalates in the products.

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