Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Food fried with plastic added into oil?

I found this post on a blog called Malaysiabest.net. This little story has caught my attention because my friend told me of how she threw out a packet of fried ikan bilis (anchovies) bought at a local Chinese grocers because she had heard the Thai manufacturers fried them in oil mixed with plastics to make them crispier. Amazing! The moral of the story? Avoid eating snacks that come from a source you don’t trust.

Are the fears completely unfounded? Who knows but I would rather not take the risks. Here is a cut-and-paste from Malaysiabest’s post which he found from another blogger. It seems unscrupulous food makers/sellers are adding plastic straws and bottles to give their food more appeal. A lot like the melamine case. So, watch out for those fried onions and fried anchovies, or fried banana crisps.

Story begins...
Consumers’ demand for crispy snacks like goreng pisang and keledek (keledek = sweet potato) 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 (banana fritter seller) 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 allegedly started in Thailand, for frying ikan bilis (anchovies) 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.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Basket of goods in our cost of living changes

How things have changed. The basket of goods that is used to measure our cost of living has altered with the times.

Things such as video cassettes, photographic films and writing paper are no longer used to measure the cost of living in NZ.

Statistics New Zealand has also removed solid fuel burners, old style cathode ray tube TVs from the basket of goods it uses to calculate cost of living. This review is based on a survey of 2,600 households and their spending habits.

According to the number crunchers at Statistics NZ, food accounts for $17.83 of every $100 dollar spent ($17.38 in 2006) and $22.75 goes to housing/household utilities ($20 in 2006).

Heat pumps and Navmans
The new basket of goods include items such as heat pumps (which my hubby won’t let me have!), in-car satellite navigation units (a Navman, or Tom Tom would be good!); free-to-air digital TV receivers (which we don’t have at home) and digital music downloads (which we do partake of).

Items from the services list which has made its way to the new basket include lawn moving (hubby is the lawn mover); house cleaning (I am the cleaner, an auction services (wonder if this is all the Trade Me costs).

Statistics are beyond my comprehension. But what I do know is the cost of living in Auckland has gone up tremendously – starting with parking! When I was working in the city, it used to cost $7 per day to park my car. The last time I went into the city, the average cost of a full-day carpark was $14 to $16 dollars. And some Wilson carpark magnate has set draconian rules such that if you choose to call yourself an “Early Bird” at a Wilson carpark, you must have your car in by 9.30am or thereabouts but can only leave after 3pm or 4pm, not before, to enjoy this offer. How stupid is that?

Real imagination
Managing a household budget takes real imagination. Kudos to the grocery shoppers out there who take the extra effort to brave Pak n Save or Lim’s Groceries – it is also a jungle out there but things are much cheaper.
Hubby complains I stock up too much. But why not? Things on sale are worth hoarding. Free range eggs were going for $3.99/dozen at Nosh 2 weeks ago, pity there are only 3 of us and Princess doesn’t eat eggs.