Health hazard in deep fried foods – The talk about plastics in hot oil?

Back in 2006, I blogged about the myth or fact that hawkers added plastic mineral water bottles into frying the shallots to make them crispy and maintain the crispiness even after many months.

My sister-in-law who used to be a hawker warned me not to eat the shallots because she insisted with a serious face that the manufacturer uses mineral water bottles to make them crisp and last. She said they will throw in mineral water bottle into the hot oil so that the plastic melts and cover the shallots to make them forever crispy.

And I just picked this link from NST through blogger Zana about the same matter. The article on NST said :

Scare over ‘coated’ snacks

CONSUMERS’ demand for crispy snacks like goreng pisang and keledek has allegedly caused hawkers in Johor Baru to literally coat fried snacks with plastic, creating a health scare.

Emails are said to have been sent out warning people to keep away from consuming extra crispy fried snacks or even chicken.

The emails tell how some hawkers had allegedly been seen adding plastic straws and bottles into boiling oil before frying their snacks.

The snacks thus produced would remain crispy for several hours, the emails said.

A factory worker, Rauf Hamdan, 24, claimed he actually saw a goreng pisang seller in the city throwing a plastic bottle into boiling oil, causing the bottle to melt.

“When I asked the hawker about it, he just matter-of-factly said his customers had not complained of any health hazards from eating his goreng pisang.

“He also said this ‘recipe’ was now popular among many hawkers like him.”

Rauf said it was shocking that sellers of fried snacks were not bothered about the possible health hazards to their consumers.

Plastic bottles are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which can cause various forms of cancer and birth deformities, if eaten.

According to the emails, the trend alledgedly started in Thailand, for frying ikan bilis and onions. It spread to Kedah and Perlis, then the rest of the country.

The sender of one of the emails said his uncle had allegedly seen a goreng pisang seller adding plastic drinking straws into hot oil in Perlis.

A friend said he had seen a hawker in Cameron Highland allegedly melt a five-litre empty cooking oil bottle in boiling oil by stirring it in.

Consumers Association of Penang research officer T. Subbarao said CAP would launch an immediate investigation.

Source :

So, is this enough reason to make you totally freaked out? I have long wondered about the fried shallots because they really stay crispy even if I keep them exposed. If I fry them at home, the shallots get soft the moment it is exposed, i.e. not kept in air tight container. But those that I bought stays crispy all the time.

I guess there is truth in what my sister-in-law told me.

6 Replies to “Health hazard in deep fried foods – The talk about plastics in hot oil?”

  1. Erm… I doubt it actually. All of the “sources” in the article is made by random people. For one, I don’t think anyone’s seen melted plastic before. I doubt that a plastic bottle stirred in oil will coat tiny pieces of shallots that perfectly. Even if it does, the texture will be totally different. The shallots staying crispy thing can be done by drying the shallots first or very, very slow cooking over low heat to ensure that the moisture from the shallots dry out completely.

    I’m happy to be proven wrong of course, but I wouldn’t put much stock into what an e-mail rumour is saying. It sounds more like a nasty rumour spread to destroy people’s livelihood. In any case, it’s a good idea to avoid fried foods anyway because of all the cholesterol 🙂

  2. Hi Lilian,
    I’ve received emails like that before. Got the shock of my life. Same here, not sure whether to believe it or not. Just like Lee, I don’t take much of deep fried food, the oozing oil is already sickening to my sight.

  3. Last week my friend bought some goreng pisang from Bangsar. We didn’t consume all of them and some 6 hours later, I was going to throw the remnants away when I discovered that the goreng pisang was still as crispy as when it first came out of the pan. Dunno if this is the work of plastics or not but logically, don’t u think that is impossible? Gross!

  4. You should send that one in to the Mythbusters to see if they will test it out.

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