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Think Twice Before You Reach for the Chopsticks
The Epoch Times

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When dining in restaurants in Mainland China, choosing your chopsticks may be the most important choice of your dining experience. Many diners, concerned about the reliability of disinfected chopsticks, prefer the disposable variety. Because disposable chopsticks are used only once, they are known as “hygienic” chopsticks. Are they really safe?

On June 2, 2005, the Guangzhou Consumer Committee reported that some low quality disposable chopsticks are much more dangerous than the reusable disinfected variety. Disposable chopsticks are bleached with sulfur dioxide, which has a recognizable, strong odor. Residues of sulfur dioxide, a health hazard, often remain on the chopsticks after bleaching.

The Hong Kong Test Center conducted a recent sample test of disposable chopsticks, which showed that all the disposable chopsticks had detectable levels of sulfur dioxide. Even though the disposable kind would seem to be clean, they could present a health hazard. Moreover, the disposable chopsticks, most often used in small restaurants, usually come without the manufacturer’s name, address, or contact information printed on the wrapping.

Many disposable chopsticks used in restaurants look whiter than regular wood, but this indicates the possible health hazard. Reliable manufacturers of disposable chopsticks use wood of good quality, so special processing and bleaching isn’t necessary. However, some small factories use low quality wood to reduce costs. As a result, the chopsticks are dark and are harder to sell. In order to make the chopsticks look of better quality, some factories illegally use sulfur, chlorine, or hydrogen peroxide to whiten the wood.

An expert craftsman who has worked in the wood industry for many years told The Epoch Times that disposable chopsticks are most often made from low quality wood such as waste material from making boards and planks. “As wood is very expensive and the selling price of disposable chopsticks is very low, of course, the manufacturer will try to lower the cost. Hygienic chopsticks are not as hygiene as you might think,” he said. The craftsman added that it is widely known that his industry has rarely been involved in producing disposable chopsticks.

The Guangzhou Consumer Committee reminds consumers that for safety, it is better to use disposable chopsticks with the manufacturer’s name, address, and contact information printed on the wrapping. In addition, chopsticks that have a very strong smell of sulfur should be avoided.

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