Tableware made with bamboo powder is unsuitable for contact with food because it can release melamine and formaldehyde. The European Commission has launched an alert campaign in 21 countries to eliminate these FCMs (Materials and Objects in Contact with Food) from the market. (1)
Tableware in bamboo powder, the real nature
Bamboo powder crockery are marketed with claim which 'natural''ecological', even 'biological', although 'even if the vegetable additive used is organic, the organic label can only be used for foods within the meaning of Regulation (EC) No. 834/200' [repealed by next reg. EU 848/18, ed], warns the European Commission.
It is instead of illegal and dangerous products. They are in fact made with a mixture of plastic polymers and bamboo or other plant-based additives, used as fillers to give volume and shape to the object.
They are distinguished from the natural bamboo artifacts to the smooth structure typical of plastic. And due to its unsuitability for contact with food, safe for natural bamboo, as we have seen. (2)
The chemical risk
The security of most plant additives have not been evaluated for safety and are not authorized under the FCM regulation (EU) 10/2011 on plastics, which approves the use of 900 substances as monomers, additives and aids in production of polymers.
Instead, it is known that bamboo and other plant-based materials ground into plastics accelerate the degradation of some polymers with which they are mixed. As a result, toxic substances such as melamine and formaldehyde can migrate into food.
Migration it is also favored by contact with hot foods and by washing in the dishwasher.
In order to end against the illegal import, trade and advertising of plastic items that use bamboo or other plant-based additives as fillers, the European Commission has launched a campaign of targeted controls, together with the European Food Fraud Network (EU Agri-Food Fraud Network, FFN).
The action plan it ended in April 2022 and the result, communicated at the end of November 2022, is that 21 European countries have notified 748 plastic products containing ground bamboo:
– 644 from the EU market,
– 104 of non-EU origin, almost always Chinese, rejected at the borders.
All products present on the European market have been withdrawn and the Member States are warned to continue the controls.
(1) Bamboo-zling. EU Enforcement Action on plastic Food Contact Materials (FCM) made of bamboo 'powder' https://food.ec.europa.eu/safety/eu-agri-food-fraud-network/eu-coordinated-actions/bamboo-zling_en
(2) Dario Dongo. Bamboo, crockery and kitchen utensils. The guidelines from India. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.9.19
Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".