Statement on Polystyrene

Hong Kong Cup is aware of the current conversation around polystyrene lids that are used throughout the industry, in Taiwan and other markets. As leading supplier to the food and beverage industry we wanted to take this opportunity to express our confidence in the safety of polystyrene lids and their use with hot beverages. Hot beverages at an average temperature of 190F/87C pose no safety hazard to customers when it contacts the lid. Assertions of statements made online regarding leeching are not representative of the hot beverage products our lids are used for in Taiwan and other markets.

Polystyrene has been approved for use in food contact applications for more than 50 years and over the past 5 decades the material has been tested repeatedly and has been deemed safe for use with food. Based on scientific research on polystyrene over many decades, several Regulatory agencies have indicated that the use of polystyrene is safe for use in food and meets the stringent requirements of Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, European Commission/European Food Safety Authority and the US Food and Drug administration. In addition, numerous studies have found that styrene is not harmful in the amounts we sometimes encounter in air or food.1

  • In 1994, after an exhaustive assessment of styrene’s possible health and environmental effects, the Canadian government ministries Health Canada and Environment Canada concluded that styrene is “non-toxic” for regulatory purposes. Health Canada found that styrene “does not constitute a danger to human life and health” and “does not constitute a danger to the environment on which human life depends.”2
  • In 2002, a twelve-member panel of international experts selected by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis reported that styrene is naturally present in foods, and the styrene levels in these foods does not represent a threat to human health.3

We can confirm that as leading suppliers we conduct robust analytical testing on polystyrene lids using country specific test methodologies. The results are consistently significantly below the maximum allowable regulatory limits in Taiwan and other markets (see attached chart). We are in compliance with all regulatory requirements and industry standards in the markets where we operate.

As innovative industry leader, we are constantly looking at new approaches to provide innovative products to our retailers. It is critical that any new product meet the exacting standards of the customers we supply and the regulatory bodies that govern the markets where we do business. This product development process takes time and must be conducted with thoughtfulness and vigor.

1 Most of these data are compiled from Table 5 in U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, National Toxicology Program, Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction, NTP-CERHR Monograph on the Potential Human Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Styrene (Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, NIH Publication No. 06-4475, February 2006), p. II-7. The data on styrene exposure owing to residual migration from a polystyrene foam cup is extracted from two sources: S. L. Varner and Charles V. Breder, “Headspace Sampling and Gas Chromatographic Determination of Styrene Migration from Food-Contact Polystyrene Cups Into Beverages and Food Simulants,” Journal of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists 64, 5 (September 1981), pp. 1122-1130, and Gregory L. Durst and Edward A. Laperle, “Styrene Monomer Migration as Monitored by Purge and Trap Gas Chromatography and Sensory Analysis for Polystyrene Containers,” Journal of Food Science 55, 2 (March 1990), pp. 522-524. Based on these studies, 5 to 10 part per billion is a reasonable estimate for the amount of styrene migrating into a contained liquid from polystyrene foam cups.

2 “SIRC: Frequently Asked Questions,” Styrene Information & Research Center web site. http://www.styrene.org/faq.htm#three

3 The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (J. T. Cohen; G. Carlson; G. Charnley; D. Coggin; E. Delzell; J. D. Graham; H. Greina; D. Krewski; M. Medinsky; R. Manson; D. Paustenbach; B. Petersen; S. Rapport; L. Rhomberg; P. B. Ryan; and K. Thompson), “A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Potential Health Risks Associated with Occupational and Environmental Exposure to Styrene,” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 5, 1-2 (January 2002), pp. 1-263.

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