Plates made from a mix of plastic and bamboo were declared toxic by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) on 30 June 2021 and their sale has been banned since.
However, the offending plates, some aimed at babies and children, have been found for sale at retailers in Switzerland, according to the French-speaking region consumer association FRC.
The plates, which contain bamboo, also contain formaldehyde and melamine, which can end up in food that comes into contact with the material, especially when heated.
It seems the retailers still selling the products may not have been aware of the ban, said the FRC.
Contacted by RTS, Barbara Pfenniger of the FSVO, said that it is difficult to reach all retailers with the information, particularly for a product often aimed at children and sold by retailers that are not specialised in selling food related products and who lack the required knowledge and legal requirements associated with such products.
It is cantonal chemists and food inspectors that inspect retailers, said Pfenniger. But the problem is that all sorts of shops are involved, such as childcare retailers, furniture stores, kiosks and supermarkets. Cantons are responsible for ensure bans are followed. And more checking could be justified, said Pfenniger.
The plates and bowls are made from a smooth plastic-like substance made from a formaldehyde resin mixed with bamboo.
Plastics used for food containers have a history of problems. In 2008, the health risks of BPA (Bisphenol A), a common chemical found in hard plastic cups and plates, made headlines. BPA, which has been around for more than 40 years, is used to harden plastics. It’s in water bottles, plates and the linings of food and drink cans. Once considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) it changed its mind in 2010, expressing concern about its potential effects on the brain, behaviour and prostate glands of the unborn and young children. BPA is a known endocrine interruptor. In 2015, following EU rules, Switzerland introduced limits on BPA levels in toys and banned its use in baby bottles.