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HK Test Finds Popular Plastic Spatulas Release Cancer-Causing Substances In Certain Foods

Many of these spatulas can be found in Malaysian markets.

Cover image via Prado Malaysia & Hong Kong's Consumer Council via SCMP

The Consumer Council in Hong Kong found many 'heat resistant' plastic spatulas will melt and release toxins that can cause cancer when used in cooking

According to its press release published yesterday, 14 May, the consumer watchdog tested a total of 17 spatulas of various brands and found that half of them had overall residue migration exceeding the European Union (EU) limit.

One model - produced by JMJ and manufactured in China - melted and deformed within 60 seconds in an oil boiling test, failing to withstand the heat of 220°C as claimed on its packaging. The product is available for sale in Malaysia on online sites, such as ezbuy.

All 17 spatulas tested by the Hong Kong Consumer Council.

Image via Hong Kong Consumer Council via HK01

A JMJ spatula, available for sale on ezbuy, claimed to be able to withstand heat up to 220°C.

Image via ezbuy

Five other spatulas left cancer-causing substances on food samples

When used in cooking sour food or food with alcohol, the council highlighted that five spatulas failed to meet the standards set by the EU on the migration of primary aromatic amines (PAA), a carcinogen that can cause bladder and breast tumours.

HK01 reported the spatulas are from these brands:
- Ideale Chef
- Circulon
- EZ Cook
- Tefal
- Chef's Favor

The Ideale Chef model blistered after an oil boiling test and recorded the highest migration content, exceeding the EU standard by 11 times with a PAA reading as high as 9.7mg/kg.

The product is sold across Asia at about RM38 each and is produced by China-based Main Plan Limited.

An Ideale Chef spatula blistered after an oil boiling test.

Image via Hong Kong Consumer Council via HK01

The five spatulas that failed to meet the migration of primary aromatic amines (PAA) standards.

Image via Hong Kong Consumer Council via HK01

Daiso and IKEA models showed better performance results

The RM6.70 priced Daiso model changed colour slightly after a 15-minute boil in oil, while the RM14 priced IKEA spatula performed the best among other brands.

However, two models from Suncraft and GastroMax - made in Northern Europe and Japan respectively - became slightly deformed after the tests.

The spatulas can be easily found in Malaysia on sites such as Shopee and Fishpond, selling between RM15 and RM67.

Image via Shopee

The consumer watchdog advised the public to use wooden or bamboo spatulas instead when deep frying or for use in prolonged heat

Its chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said the best practice is to minimise the time of spatulas being exposes to high temperatures, reported SCMP.

"We can try not to leave spatulas in a hot pot when cooking to avoid deformation," she said.

Wong added that consumers should always check the surface of spatulas and replace them if they find sharp edges or spikes.

Photo for illustration purposes only.

Image via Serious Eats

While the results have come as a shock to many, one company questioned the Consumer Council's method of testing

Nordic producer GastroMax said spatulas were not supposed to be used in boiling oil for 15 minutes.

Ideale Chef refuted the consumer watchdog's findings by supplying an independent testing report to show its products had met US standards.

SCMP reached out to JMJ, but the company could not be reached for a response.

You can watch the test results here:

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