Bring back use of leaves for packing food

We should revert to using the traditional method of wrapping stir-fried Chinese food. The use of opeh leaves was a brilliant method adopted by our forefathers.

Opeh leaves were especially popular and prevalent in the bygone era when hawkers used them for char kway teow and Hokkien mee. Similarly, these were also used for wrapping other forms of cooked food, such as stir-fried Chinese noodles, vermicelli and hor fun.

Sadly, in recent years, opeh leaves have been replaced by styrofoam or plastic boxes with covers. These have various disadvantages.

Styrofoam boxes are non-biodegradable, unlike opeh leaves, banana leaves or palm leaves, and are hence not friendly to the environment.

It is also not advisable to have cooked food kept inside sealed plastic boxes, even for a short period of time. The heat emanating from the cooked food reacts with the plastic material, and the by-product of this chemical reaction can be harmful to human health.

Could the authorities bring back the use of opeh leaves for packing food?

Teo Kok Seah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Bring back use of leaves for packing food'. Print Edition | Subscribe