Vietnam checks food wrap for toxin after China scare

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The Ministry of Health has ordered tests of plastic film used to wrap food products after it made headlines in China for containing toxic ingredients.

The National Institute of Food Control in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City's Institute of Hygiene and Public Health will test for Bis (2-ethylhexyl) adipate or DEHA, a plasticizer, and other harmful substances.

Lam Hung of the ministry's Food Safety and Hygiene Department said DEHA is harmful to the endocrine system, impairs male sexual functioning, and cause premature sexual development in females.

It is also proven to cause liver tumors and cancers in mice.

The institutes have also been ordered to look for other poisons like arsenic, lead, and cadmium, and focus on Chinese imports and those with dubious or unclear origins.

The Chinese media reported on July 29 that 15 out of 16 samples of polyvinyl chloride plastic wrap tested in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou proved to be toxic.

China Central Television said the highest content of DEHA in the samples was 472 times higher than the 0.05 percent level at which its presence can be detected.

The country had banned DEHA in food wraps in 2005.

Experts said the substance can leak into the food, especially fatty food.

Food wraps sold in Vietnam are made in Thailand, China, South Korea, or locally, and have become a common product in many houses for their convenience.

"It is very convenient and very cheap, only VND24,000 (more than one US dollar) a box," a Hanoi woman named Hai Anh said, adding she uses one box a month.

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