You might have heard of it recently: The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) recommends that you no longer use tableware made of melamine plastic in which bamboo or corn fibers have been added. These products must be withdrawn from the market immediately because they are harmful for our health. But does this apply to all bamboo products? Should all bamboo dishes, cutting boards, straws and cups be thrown away? The answer to that is simply NO, as long as it is 100% bamboo.
Melamine plastic with bamboo fibers
Melamine plastic, also called 1,3,5-Triazine-2,4,6-triamine, has melamine as a building block and is very strong, hard, wear-resistant and light. Many kitchen and tableware are made from this, as well as floors, furniture, paper and cardboard products and electronic equipment.
Bamboo-melamine (or melamine-bamboo) products are products made of melamine plastic to which bamboo fibers have been added. This does not mean that the product thus becomes “bamboo”, but that is how it is sold. The melamine-bamboo products are therefore still made of plastic. The use of PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) is also not a good substitute for melamine, because products from this are still plastic with a little bamboo incorporated.
100% natural bamboo products are safe
Bamboo is the name for a group of plants that are related to the Gramineae, also known as grasses. They consist of strands that are hollow on the inside and stand upright. Bamboo is known for its growth speed, strength and durability.
100% bamboo is used as a material for creating different types of products, for example in the kitchen. When making larger products such as cutting boards and dishes, bamboo is cut into pieces and fabricated together by means of glue or braiding of the bamboo. No additives of plastics are involved in this production process. For example, when making bamboo straws the stem is only cut, thoroughly hollowed, washed and dried to become the end product.
The products that are made from 100% bamboo are completely natural and do not contain the properties of melamine bamboo products, which are still plastic products. Products made from 100% bamboo do not contain melamine or formaldehyde.
How can you recognize the difference?
According to The Netherlands Nutrition Center 100% bamboo(fiber) products can be used safely. Always read the labels of the products carefully so that “fake melamine bamboo” products are avoided. Unfortunately, it is not always on the product, but you can recognize it by the dull / matte appearance and small bamboo fibers through it, which often look just like plastic products. With real bamboo products the wood structure is very clearly visible. The bamboo straws from Blue Marché are made of 100% bamboo and therefore safe to use.
The melamine bamboo products release formaldehyde and melamine, which are harmful to health in high amounts. By coming into contact with hot and acidic food and drinks, these substances are released and end up in the food and / or drinks. This causes stomach irritation and ulcers. In the long run, this could even cause kidney problems.
The Bureau Risk Assessment & Research (BuRO) of the NVWA has investigated all kinds of melamine-bamboo products, which showed that many tableware exceeded the limits and therefore it must now be taken off the market. Especially for young children, the release of the chemicals is harmful due to their low body weight.
According to the BuRO, bamboo and corn fibers as an addition to plastic tableware have not been assessed by the EU food safety authority (EFSA). This means that safety cannot be guaranteed and therefore the addition of bamboo and corn fibers is not allowed.
Bamboo tableware must comply with the Commodities Act. Providers of these products must ensure that the products are safe. The NVWA supervises this. So now it has turned out that the bamboo melamine products are not safe.
Despite the fact that melamine was used in milk in 2008 (which was not allowed) and was regulated by the European Commission in 2011 under Regulation 284/2011, it still went wrong. The NVWA will now take enforcement action when melamine-bamboo products are offered in the Netherlands.
Other natural materials
There are many products that are safe for use as tableware, such as reed and wheat straw. Reed is a type of grass that grows near the waterfront. Wheat is one of the types of grain that is used for a lot of food, the residual material can be used for other products. Now also for straws!
Blue Marché stands for sustainability, passing on a clean world to future generations and safety. That is why Blue Marché does not use melamine or PLA (or other plastics), but only 100% natural and safe materials.
If you have any questions, you can always contact us or the NVWA directly.