The habit of using newspapers to soak the oil off fried food is unacceptable as those who consume such food will endanger their health, said National Poison Centre consultant Dr T. Jayabalan.
He said, “Solvents are used to dissolve the ink on newspapers. These solvents could be carcinogenic. Consuming food which is mixed with these chemicals puts people at risk of getting serious chronic illnesses”, adding that it was a risky practice because chemicals in the ink might contain cancer-causing elements.
Dr Jayabalan was commenting on complaints by the public that some food sellers preferred to use newspapers to soak up excess grease from fried food before selling them to customers.
Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Mohd Idris also said hawkers should be banned from using newspapers to absorb oil from fried food. He said hawkers and food operators should also stop using newspapers to wrap food covered with plastic sheets:
You may never know if the plastic sheets have holes in them. The food may still be contaminated with the ink on the newspaper and other chemicals. Local councils should make it a requirement that all hawkers be prohibited from such practices before granting them an operating licence.
Mohd Idris said this move would help hawkers practise good hygiene and be more mindful of their customers’ health, adding that brown paper bags were a safer option to wrap food.
Something for you guys to consider the next time you want to purchase ’em deep fried keropok lekor or pisang goreng goodness!