FSA warning on plastic-bamboo blends – not a Vegware thing 

The UK Food Standards Agency has put out a warning to UK retailers to withdraw from sale any cutlery or containers made from composite plastic-plant materials. 

Lots of alarmed customers have been in touch, so here’s a bit more info on what this is – and why it doesn’t affect Vegware.

It doesn’t affect Vegware products 

We do not use any conventional plastics in our products, as we design our products with composting in mind. We do use plant materials, and plant-based compostable materials like PLA – but we never blend non-compostable plastics into our products. It’s been widely (mis)reported as a warning about plant-based plastics (rather than plastics containing plant matter), so you’re not alone if you’re confused!  

The FSA clarifies:

“The FSA’s advice does not apply to items made solely from bamboo or plant-based materials, only those products which use a combination of plastic and plant filler.” 

FSA warning on plastic-bamboo blended products

What are the concerns?  

The Committee on Toxicity found that, in some cases, having plant matter (bamboo, rice husks, wheat straw, hemp etc) within in the plastic can result in the migration of the plastic components, such as formaldehyde or melamine, into food or drink above their legal limit.  

The FSA advises extra caution to avoid using the utensils or containers to eat and drink hot and acidic foods and drinks, or to place them in the microwave. This may make the release of elevated amounts of harmful chemicals more likely. 

Consumers are being advised – as a precaution – not to use this type of plastic blend product until a full study understands the potential risks. The concern is more the unknown long-term effects of regular use, rather than immediate health risks.

What does it affect? 

Common products made using these materials include:

  • reusable drinking cups – we’ve seen a lot of these for hot drinks, with funky coloured designs, and lightweight with a smooth, matt finish
  • cutlery – we’re seeing more of these in the market, sold as reusable wood or bamboo composite cutlery
  • plates, bowls, and cups – including some specifically marketed as crockery sets for infants and children
  • chopping boards and lunchboxes

The FSA tells us: “It may be difficult to tell whether a product is made from a bamboo-composite material once it has been removed from its packaging, but products will have a smooth surface and have the feel of plastic.”

A typical cup made of composite materials

What should you do? 

Consumers are being advised not use such products until a full study into the potential risks can be completed. If you’re a business, the FSA advises not to sell these affected items until the evidence has been examined. And also, you can contribute to their Call for Evidence.

Want to know more about Vegware? Learn about our materials and certification.

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