Health risk: Sick due to plastic particles from kitchen utensils

Health risk: Sick due to plastic particles from kitchen utensils

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Plastic components that are hazardous to health can be transferred to food

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) points out in a statement that certain plastic components from kitchen utensils pass into the food and can become a potential health problem.

Kitchen gadgets made of plastic can become a health risk

Kitchen utensils made of plastic are widely used today. Not all of them are safe. For example, consumer advocates in the past pointed out that heating plastic kitchen utensils such as melamine or silicone may release substances that are harmful to health. When baking with silicone molds, care should therefore be taken to let the molds outgas beforehand in order to reduce the health risk. Kitchen utensils made of polyamide (PA) can also pose a health hazard.

Polyamide components can pass into food

Kitchen aids made of polyamide (PA) serve a variety of purposes when baking, roasting and cooking, but components of this plastic can pass from the utensils into the food and become a possible health problem.

This was the result of an assessment by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), in which it was examined how the risk of ring-shaped oligomers, which are transferred from polyamide of the varieties PA6 and PA66 to food, was assessed.

As the experts explain in a communication, oligomeric compounds are composed of a few similar molecules of simple plastic building blocks, such as caprolactam (PA 6) or adipic acid (PA 66) and hexamethylene diamine.

According to the information, such oligomers are created unintentionally when the plastic hardens (polymerizes). Due to their small molecular size, they can diffuse through the plastic and pass on to food.

Maximum daily intake

Due to the lack of experimental toxicological data on PA oligomers, the BfR scientists used the TTC method.

TTC stands for “Threshold of toxicological concern”, in German about “threshold of toxicological concern”.

According to the scientists, the method enables substances, for which no toxicological information is available, to be divided into (Cramer) classes based on their chemical structure, with each class being assigned a maximum daily intake up to which exposure to the associated substances is unlikely .

For this purpose, extensive data on chemical compounds for which sufficient information about health risks is already available is used.

No final risk assessment yet

According to the BfR, the PA oligomers are not suspected of being carcinogenic. According to the TTC concept, a health risk is unlikely up to a daily intake of 90 micrograms (0.09 milligrams) of the individual ring-shaped PA oligomers (based on a person weighing 60 kilograms).

However, studies by food surveillance and the BfR show that kitchen utensils can often transfer higher amounts of ring-shaped PA oligomers to food.

From the BfR's point of view, a final risk assessment can only be carried out if sufficient information from toxicological studies is available.

BfR therefore recommends that manufacturers prepare toxicological data in accordance with the requirements of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and make them available to BfR. (ad)

Author and source information

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