Is It Safe To Use Disposable Bamboo Chopsticks? MOH Has The Answer

There were reports earlier this week that said that bamboo chopsticks contained harmful substances.

Cover image via Phunuvietnam

Good news, everyone!

You can carry on using bamboo chopsticks with your fried noodles or dim sum, as the Ministry of Health (MOH) has declared that they are safe to use.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that it's safe to use bamboo chopsticks.

Image via Weblogs

The Health Ministry assured Malaysians that the widely available China-made bamboo chopsticks are safe for use.

Following concerns of toxic content in the utensils, Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the ministry had studied the chopsticks to ensure its safety and compliance with the Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985.

“Tests showed that the level of sulphur dioxide in the bamboo chopsticks is lower than the limit set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Taiwan, which is not more than 22 parts per million (ppm)."

“The ministry will continue to monitor the level of sulphur dioxide in the chopsticks to ensure the safety of its use,” he said in a statement.

There was a scare earlier this week after a report said that made-in-China disposable chopsticks contained high levels of chemicals. The article went viral although it was dated from 19 March 2013.

A worker at a chopstick factory showing how she polishes disposable chopsticks with chemicals.

Image via Xinhua

"Normally, when we have this kind of reports, we will study and look for scientific evidence before coming up with a conclusive decision," Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said.

Due to this, the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) has warned of the dangers of using disposable chopsticks.

CAP research officer Hatijah Hashim was reported to have said that disposable chopsticks were often made of bamboo and would most probably have been submerged in chemicals to help preserve them.

"When you use these chopsticks with chemical preservatives, you will inadvertently consume chemicals without knowing it," she said, adding most consumers do not even wash the utensils before use.

Sulphur dioxide is often used as a bleaching agent and to prevent fungus attacks during the production of bamboo chopsticks

Dr Noor Hisham said according to the Food Regulations 1985, sulphur dioxide is classified as a permitted preservative in certain foods, and at certain levels.

"Sulphur dioxide is not harmful to humans when used in permissible concentration. However, it can cause tiredness to people who are sensitive to the substance when inhaled or ingested," he said.

He said if consumers were weary about the safety-levels of food appliances available in the local market, they can report to the ministry through the district health office, or the nearest state health department office, or through the ministry's website at, or the Food Safety and Quality Division's Facebook page,

Last year, it was revealed that water vending machines contained harmful E. coli, Coliform and Clostridium perfringens microbes – the same kind of bacteria found in untreated sewage:

Also, is it safe to drink from a bottled water that is left in your car?

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