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Some plastics have been known to leak plasticizers (bisphenol and phthalates) into the food they contain, especially when heated. Because such compounds are suspected of being endocrine disruptors it seems best to avoid eating hot food from a plastic container.

Recently bamboo bowls, cups and plates have become available. As far as I can tell these are made from some kind of composite material which contains bamboo fibers and something that glues these together. The only information provided is that it's: renewable, dishwasher safe, bio-degradable (the last two claims seem contradictory), food safe, but not suited to be microwaved.

Is it possible that these kitchen-wares are safer than other plastic bowls, plates and so on? Is it possible to even assess the risks?

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  • $\begingroup$ While there has been plenty of noise about the risks of bisphenol-A (a monomer of the plastic not a plasticiser) and phthalates, there is little or no hard evidence they cause measurable harm. sure we could go back to glass (but that is not energy efficient and we are worried about global warming) or plant-based containers (but they will leak natural materials into your food which are just as likely to be harmful as man-made materials as possibly more so as they don't get tested as much). $\endgroup$ – matt_black May 30 '18 at 11:46
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Inspired by the other answer and the comment to my question, i have dug a little deeper. The tableware in the picture is sold by a company called Zuperzozial and made from bamboo and corn reinforced with melamine resin.

Many similar products are sold, almost always without a brand name and always without any specification of the actual material. So I will answer my question for this specific set of cups, there is no way to tell if the answer holds for 'bamboo' tableware in general.

Melamine from tableware may leak into the food, especially when heated, according to the FDA. It is ok to serve cold drinks in a melamine resin cup. The claim that these cups are micro-wave safe is not true.

As for the amount of BS of the rest of the marketing claims: bamboo and corn are renewable sources. But i'm not sure how degradable a resin is.

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It is probably not "bamboo based". Most likely it is bamboo (saw dust) filled. That totally doesn't answer the question about what the plastic is that it's made from. The only restriction I can think of in using bamboo fiber is that if virtually all of the moisture isn't removed before its added to the mix, then the water will boil and you'll have real problems with bubbles in the plastic. So, you have to dry the bamboo. Degradation, rats, bugs, fungus, bacteria - where is it being dried? how long? under what conditions? No way for us to know. As far as I can see, unless you work for the manufacturer (or have access to their factory), the only thing you can rely on is brand name. Is it made by/for a reputable brandname? "food safe" has no "official" definition. It is marketing hype. My suspicions are raised when things like "renewable" are slapped on a label. That's 99% marketing BS. And "biodegradable" is a great idea but. A newspaper (remember those?) or a plastic bag rapidly degrades when exposed to the sun and rain. Put them underground and it will take centuries. That's just another meaningless (deceptive) marketing term. Like "natural" or "organic" or "pesticide free". And then there's "local"...we never seem to learn. My best advice is if it's a fad, avoid it. Of course, that's what I've been saying about lasik...

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  • $\begingroup$ This answers my second question: safety of 'bamboo' kitchenware cannot be accurately assessed without more information. And nicely words the suspicions that claims about food-safety and bio-degadability are just "meaningless (deceptive) marketing" terms. +1 $\endgroup$ – Ivana Aug 20 '17 at 11:35

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