Pisang Goreng Fried With Melted Plastic

Public going bananas over toxic ‘crunchies’.

I was tuning in to Ben and Nadia of FlyFM this morning on the way to work and they were discussing about urban food legends. Many of you may have heard of this before but it came as a surprise to me when I heard that one of Malaysian’s favourite snack is cooked with melted plastic!

Shocked with disbelief, I went on a googling spree and found out that this is not a recent issue. Since 2005 (or earlier), people have been talking and claiming sights of hawkers melting plastic drinking straws in the boiling oil before frying those batter-coated bananas!

This issue came into the limelight when AsiaOne.com, a popular on-line news portal posted an article on this matter on March 13, 2008.

Hawkers seen mixing melted plastic with goreng pisang

JOHOR – SOME hawkers in Johor Baru are literally cooking popular snacks such as goreng pisang and keledek with melted plastic, creating a health scare, a news report said.

The News Straits Times reported recently that e-mails on the unethical practice have been circulating to warn people of the potential health hazards of eating extra crispy fried snacks or even chicken.

The e-mails describe how some hawkers had been seen adding plastic straws and bottles into boiling oil before frying their snacks.

Apparently, plastic is a ‘secret ingredient’ and it has been a common practice to most hawkers. There are reports of hawkers melting plastic straws, plastic drinking bottle and plastic bags into hot boiling cooking oil. Some hawker had bought cooking oil in plastic bags, instead of pouring the cooking oil into the wok; they just throw the whole bag into the wok.

There are many reasons to such unethical practice; some says that by melting plastic in the oil, it helps keeping the oil clean and re-use them again for the next day. But ultimately, the hawkers believed that the ‘secret ingredient’ makes the goreng pisang and goreng keledek crunchier.

Just early this year, Grace Chang, a Principal of a college in KL stumbled upon a piece of plastic straw that had half-melted and had embedded into the banana fritters which she bought at a shopping mall outlet. She quickly reported this case to The Daily Express.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) Vice President, Datuk Patrick Sindu, said he wants the matter to be probed by the Health Department; but I haven’t heard anything from the government or the Health Department doing any investigation on this matter.

Now who in what right mind would anybody wants to eat a plastic-coated goreng pisang? Basically nobody! It is believed that goreng pisang fried with melted plastic will stay crunchy even for hours. We all know everything fried will become soft and soggy if being cooled down in open air. So how to be sure you’re not indulging any plastic-coated goreng pisang? Stay away from any super crispy goreng pisang which can stay crispy and crunching 2 hours later.

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