Disposable chopsticks may look like innocent little strips of wood, but producing them involves chemicals and preservatives that raise questions about potential health risks and food safety concerns.
According to Shanghaiist, China produces more than 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks every year. But a recent investigation by Shanghai Youth Daily found that disposable chopsticks are sometimes produced by boiling them in chemicals and then fumigating them before packing them up in their little paper sleeves for distribution at restaurants.
One chopstick factory in Zhejiang province was found to be boiling its chopsticks in a bath of industrial hydrogen peroxide, then polishing them with paraffin to make them more smooth before sending them to market.
One customer told the paper that she boiled her chopsticks to sterilize them before using them for food, but she was disturbed to find that the water in the pot became cloudy. According to experts, the chopsticks were soaked in a preservative called sulphur dioxide, of which many of the chopsticks in Shanghai markets contained excessive amounts.