PETALING JAYA: 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 it was a risky practice because che-micals in the ink might contain cancer-causing elements.
“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,” he said.
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 said hawkers should be banned from using newspapers to absorb oil from fried food.
“Local councils should make it a requirement that all hawkers be prohibited from such practices before granting them an operating licence,” he said.
Mohd Idris said this move would help hawkers practise good hygiene and be more mindful of their customers’ health.
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,” he said.
Mohd Idris said brown paper bags were a safer option to wrap food.
Consultant Remy Jaafar, 55, said he was turned off when he saw a hawker selling keropok lekor (fish crackers) using newspapers to soak up the oil from the fried snacks.
“When I told the hawker that it was an unhealthy practice, she merely glared at me. Needless to say, I’m not going to buy anything from her anymore,” said Remy from Ipoh.