Stay-on tabs for cans may be banned in future due to hygiene concerns.
Stay-on tabs for cans, the more environment-friendly replacement for the traditional pull-tab, may be banned in future due to hygiene concerns, according to the International Food Packing Association.
There is concern that because the stay-on tab is pushed into the drink on opening, there is a risk to health as cans may have been contaminated by bacteria, dust and even mice during storage and transportation.
In response to consumer complaints, the Beijing-based association plans to discuss the problem with the government and manufacturers to update the standards for can packaging, said Dong Jinshi, secretary general of the association.
Many of those complaining just didn't understand why some companies had abandoned the pull-tab, he said.
Dong said the stay-on tabs had been introduced from overseas in an effort to protect the environment.
The pull-tab was phased out in many foreign countries in the 1980s, because consumers usually threw the tabs away, causing litter and harming the environment. Domestic can manufacturers began to use the environment-friendly stay-on tab about a decade ago, he said.
Now nearly half of drink makers, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have adopted the stay-on tab in the Chinese market for easier recycling.
However, many consumers expressed concern at the cleanliness of this method of opening a can and many clean them under running water, wipe them with a tissue, and also wash their hands before opening them to make sure they are safe.
"The stay-on tabs are very inconvenient for the consumers," said Shanghai resident Zhao Shengnan. "I usually go to the toilet to rinse the can before opening it in restaurants."
"The association has launched a survey about the safety of the stay-on tabs, which will decide whether to put a stop to the use of the tabs," Dong said yesterday.
He told the Beijing Morning Post that the association found in checks that the cans in sealed cartons to be very clean while those stored singly on supermarket shelves and fridges were found to contain excessive bacteria.
He told the newspaper that wiping dust off the cans by hand could introduce even more bacteria.
Dong also said that cleaning cans with water or tissues would only help get rid of dirt, not bacteria.
He advised consumers to use a straw or pour the contents into a glass.
Dong was also advising drink makers to print warnings on the cans about the potential danger, according to the newspaper.