Is that safe enough to eat from?

Wrapping food in newspapers, drinking from plastic bottles, and eating from cheap melamine dishes could be doing you more harm than help


Food is a staple for us to function and so we pay attention to what we eat. We make sure that we eat clean and healthy food. But we do not pay attention to what we are eating the food from. Newspaper, plastic, paper boxes — the materials that our food are packed or wrapped in are harmful for our body causing one to suffer from headache to indigestion to kidney and neuro problems.


When we buy pakoras, samosas or any other snack, they are usually given to us wrapped in newspapers. Not only these items, but when we cook sel-rotis, puri or fry beaten rice, we immediately place them on the newspaper for the oil to soak in.

“Placing or wrapping food items in newspapers is a very unhealthy practice. The ink in the newspapers contains hazardous chemicals which have negative effects on health. Lead is present in the ink used in newspapers and consumption of lead through ink-infused food will lead to numbness in nerves. It will also lead to blurring of vision,” informs Dr Milan Khadka, Consultant Physician at Bir Hospital, Kathmandu adding, “There are chances for one to suffer from headache and vomiting too. If lead is consumed for a long time, there are chances for one to suffer from difficulties in the functioning of the nerves making it difficult for one to move hands and feet properly.”

Plastic bottles

From water bottles to milk bottles, plastic bottles are everywhere. There are chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) phthalates and Polyvinyl Chloride (PCV) in plastics which mix with food when plastics are heated or used for a long time, as per Dr Khadka. These are toxic substances and are likely to cause endocrine disruptors.

“When these compounds get deposited in the stomach, they flow to the intestine and then to the blood system. It will then lead to indigestion,” he informs.

As per him, diarrhoea and vomiting are seen as the results. To protect yourself from such health hazards

Dr Khadka advises all to “stop using plastic bottles”.

This is one reason why many offices and restaurants have shifted to paper cups to serve tea and coffee.


Many of us serve food in melamine dishware. But did you know that melamine is an organic base chemical most commonly found in the form of white crystals rich in nitrogen?

According to an article on the website of World Health Organisation, when food placed on a low quality melamine dishware is consumed, there are chances for an increased risk of kidney related problems.

It says, “While there are no direct human studies on the effect of melamine, data from animal studies can be used to predict adverse health effects. Melamine alone causes bladder stones in animal tests. When combined with cyanuric acid, which may also be present in melamine powder, melamine can form crystals that can give rise to kidney stones. These small crystals can also block the small tubes in the kidney potentially stopping the production of urine, causing kidney failure and, in some cases, death.”

In addition, Dr Khadka points out, “Melamine poisoning can lead to irritability, blood in urine, little urine, no urine, kidney infection, high blood pressure among others.”

In packaged food

While packing, several chemicals are used in the food items for preservation. Dr Khadka explains, consumption of such food items with preservatives leads to headache, blurred vision and also has an adverse effect in the development of children.

He cites, “Consumption of preservatives and chemicals will have an adverse effect on the health of growing children. It will also have an adverse effect on people with chronic diseases. People with diabetes, liver disease and people with immune-compromised status are affected as their immunity is quite low.”

Our life is advanced and fast. To meet the needs of consumers, fruits and vegetables too are packed in different plastics nowadays. However, the doctor advises, “it will be better to buy vegetables and fruits from the source if it’s possible because it’s fresher there”.


  • Avoid using plastic
  • Use glass
  • Use stainless steel
  • Use cast iron utensils
  • Avoid packing food stuff in newspapers
  • Eat home-cooked food