German Ministry Warns of Chemicals in Colorful Napkins

German minister warns of carcinogens in paper plates and napkins

Germany's Food and Agriculture Ministry is warning people away from colorful paper plates and napkins on the grounds that the colorful inks can contain carcinogenic chemicals.

Colorful plates and napkins are an easy way to add a bit of novelty to a picnic or barbecue, but Germany’s Food and Agriculture Ministry is warning people to stick to the basic white variety on the grounds that the colorful dyes could contain dangerous chemicals that can seep into food. 

According to The Local, Christian Schmidt, the German Minister of Food and Agriculture, is currently campaigning for tighter controls on the inks used in disposable plates and napkins, which can reportedly contain carcinogenic compounds called primary aromatic amines, which can transfer into food. A recent report from the Ministry says food served on or packaged in colorful paper was often found to contain those compounds at levels that "exceed the acceptable thresholds.”

"In the past years we have investigated the risks of these inks at the request of some of the German states," said Andreas Luch, head of chemicals and product safety at Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. According to Luch, as a result of that investigation the Institute recommended that people avoid the compounds as much as possible.

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According to The Local, Schmidt intends to bring a proposal covering stricter rules about the use of colorful inks in food packaging and disposable plates, napkins, and utensils before the EU commission.