Study reveals cancer risk in Kaylite

Source: Study reveals cancer risk in Kaylite – DailyNews Live

Bridget Mananavire      7 July 2017

HARARE – A study by the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has revealed that
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) – popularly known as kaylite – which is used by
many restaurants and food vendors to package meals and beverages, contains
a substance that causes cancer.

The study was done by the UZ Food, Nutrition and Family Science department
over a four-month period in which its researchers focused on three
different types of foods, analysing how they reacted to the kaylite
Health and Child Care ministry is yet to comment on the findings of the

Standards Association of Zimbabwe (Saz) said its job was not to regulate
but facilitating standards.

“Saz facilitates the development of standards and encourages the use of
these standards to enhance Zimbabwe’s competitiveness and safeguard the
welfare of communities,” Saz director-general Eve Gadzikwa told the Daily

“The association has a waste management standard but more should be done
to educate people on different strategies to deal with solid waste,
hazardous waste, to green the economy.”

UZ senior lecturers Batsirai Chipurura, Emilia Guchu and Lorraine Mitumbi
found that reheating and refrigerating food in kaylites resulted in an
increased migration of styrene to food, raising the cancer risk.

While plenty of previous research has linked individual pollutants to
increased risks of specific types of cancer, the current study focused on
how the use of kaylite as food packaging may influence the risk of

“Kaylites are made of expanded polystyrene and it is this styrene that is
dangerous to the human health as it can cause cancer and disturb other
organs in the human body.  And it can be transferred from the kaylites to
the food under different conditions,” Chipurura told the Daily News in an

He said they wanted to establish if the rate of movement of styrene
increased with temperature and storage time.

“We got kaylite samples from three suppliers in Harare and all three of
them contained 97 percent styrene.  We also conducted a research on three
foods, oily foods, acidic foods and distilled water, for example tea.”

“We noted that the rate of movement from the kaylite to food was high as
the temperature increased and this happens when you re-heat the food in
the kaylite,” he said.

They also noted that even under refrigeration, even at five degrees
celsius, there was high migration of styrene, especially in oily food, and
this happens just after 30 minutes.

“We wanted to educate people on these findings, so that the people have
better information. We are working to have it published in the journal of
food packaging and shelf life in three months‘ time.

“We suggest that people use paper, bio-plastics and any other
biodegradable material or at least put a barrier between the kaylite and
food,” added Chipurura.

The department said Chapurura will have another study to determine
reactions on serving.

Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri banned
the use of EPS packaging early last year and gave those whose businesses
depended on its use up to June 30, last year to switch to alternative
packaging or risk being levied.

She said the kaylites were fouling the environment.

The ban was in line with Statutory Instrument 84 of 2012, as read with
Section 140 of the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20:27), but fast food
outlets and major supermarkets continue to package food including meat,
fruits and vegetables in kaylites.