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What are the “more sustainable” choices in Hong Kong? In recent years, there are a number of new developments in Hong Kong on sustainable consumption, such as waste reduction at source initiatives (e.g., zero-waste store) and recycling initiatives (e.g., garment to garment recycling system, Tetra Pak recycling facility), etc. 1 Zero-waste store in Hong Kong The first zero-waste store was opened in 2018 in Sai Ying Pun and more stores joined to provide no-packaging products in order to minimize the use of packaging materials. Packaging materials, despite having a short shelf life (of a few minutes to a few days), constitute a major part of municipal solid waste. 2 The world's first garment to garment recycling system The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), in cooperation with garment manufacturers and international apparel brands, developed and launched the world’s first garment to garment recycling system (G2G) in Hong Kong in December 2018. The G2G system can perform a series of processes including: cutting fabric into smaller pieces, opening and mixing fibre, carding, spinning and garment knitting. It takes as little as 4 hours to turn an old garment into a new piece and has showcased the textile and garment industry’s ability to achieving sustainable development. 3 Drink cartons can now be recycled! The main recyclable materials in Hong Kong include paper, metal, plastic and glass. As compound materials are difficult to recycle, items such as drink cartons which are typically made from layers of paper, polyethylene and aluminum, have a recycling rate close to zero and generate a large amount of waste. In view of this, one beverage manufacturer in Hong Kong launched a new recycling scheme and a recycling facility in 2019 to promote sustainable development of the industry, with dozens of smart recycling systems installed in various locations throughout the territory. 4 Various ecolabelling programs In order to help consumers in finding sustainable products, a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong have put in place various ecolabelling and certification programs to attest the environmental standards across a wide range of products, from household cleaning products to building materials. Hong Kong Green Label Scheme CIC Green Product Certification – HK G-Pass HKQAA Hong Kong Registration-Eco-Friendly Series Sustainable consumption can be “Strong” or “Weak” “Weak Sustainable Consumption” refers to actions arising from individuals’ own needs or choices to conserve and reduce waste. For example, one will switch off the lights when leaving a room, or select a more energy-efficient model when purchasing a new electrical product. These actions can save money and also are eco-friendly. They are relatively easy to follow as consumers do not need to make drastic changes to their original consumption behaviour. However, “Weak Sustainable Consumption” alone is not enough to support the sustainable development of our society. Therefore, it is necessary to promote “Strong Sustainable Consumption”. "Strong Sustainable Consumption" must take into account matters such as "product life cycle" and the long-term impact of the purchased product on the ecological environment and society. For example, before making a purchase decision one will consider matters such as power consumption of the product during its production process, labour rights of the workers, impact on the ecological environment of endangered species, possibilities of causing water and air pollution, disposal and recycling options, and corporate social responsibility measures of the manufacturers and retailers, etc. How to promote sustainable consumption? — Let’s learn from our foreign friends! Using economic incentives to encourage the consumption of sustainable products: Some foreign governments have launched cash reward programs. For example, the South Korean Government launched the "Green Credit Card Scheme" in 2011. Cardholders are rewarded with points when they use public transportation, buy eco-friendly products, or implement water-saving or energy-saving measures at home and the points accumulated can then be used to purchase eco-friendly products or services. Certification / accreditation programs operated by a government agency or a credible third-party organisation can increase the transparency of product information: It is not easy for consumers to obtain information on the sustainability aspect of a product. There are a number of voluntary ecolabelling schemes in the world, such as “EU Ecolabel” by the European Union, which allow consumers to identify products that meet high environmental standards. Besides, the "Seafood Guide" launched by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which uses simple and easy-to-understand guidelines to assist consumers in choosing sustainable seafood. A user-friendly platform can facilitate consumers in accessing information about sustainable products: There are different types of claims and labels relating to sustainable products on the market. Consumers need to have sufficient knowledge or invest enough time to understand the certification process and regulatory system behind these ecolabels and determine whether the products actually meet their needs. Therefore, an easy-to-browse platform can save consumers time while promoting sustainable consumption behaviour. Sending gifts this festive season can be more eco-friendly by simply saying "No need to wrap, thank you!" We also want to remind everyone to consume smartly! As the festive season approaches, when consumers buy chocolates or candies as gifts, they should opt for those in ordinary packaging. Gift boxes are often over-packaged, and therefore are also more expensive when compared with ordinary packaging. After reading the above information, why not take a quiz?! You can find in “Quiz for the Eco Consumption Guru”, CHOICE Magazine, Issue 521 (Chinese version only) a list of questions on your consumption patten relating to clothing, dining, living and commuting. Let’s find out if you are a “Basic” or an “Advanced” level eco consumption guru!
How much do laundry costs differ? The first step in doing a laundry is to choose the laundry product! The Consumer Council (or the “Council”) had conducted a detailed review on powdered detergents, liquid detergents and laundry capsules. The Council did a quick cost-benefit analysis on these products based on the recommended amount and price. As the recommended amount and price varied across types, the final costs should only be used as a reference: Powdered detergents: 19g – 81g per wash; $0.23 – $1.28 per wash; a difference of 4 times Liquid detergents: 15g – 102g per wash; $0.28 – $2.89 per wash; a marked difference of 9 times Laundry capsules: 1 capsule per wash, $2 – $6.6 per wash; a difference of more than 2 times A comparison of these 3 types of laundry products showed that the cost per wash ranged from $0.23 to $6.6, revealing a difference of more than 27 times! The above results showed that the average cost of laundry capsules was relatively high. However, did they fare better than the other 2 types in terms of performance? A comparison of stain removal performance We all have encountered that embarrassing moment when we accidently stained our clothes. The stain removal performance of a laundry product is therefore very important and is one of the key factors that consumers use to distinguish good products from bad ones. There are 4 main types of common stains: (a) Greasy stains (including mineral oils, make-up foundation, beef grease and human sebum) Most powdered detergents performed better in removing human sebum but less well in removing make-up foundation and mineral oils. Most liquid detergents, on the other hand, performed better in removing both human sebum and make-up foundation but less well in removing mineral oils. Besides, all 3 types of laundry products (powdered detergents, liquid detergents and laundry capsules) performed relatively poorly in removing beef grease. Beef lovers should take note. (b) Enzymatic stains (including chocolate, blood, carrot puree, mud mixed with grass, etc.) Apart from performing well in removing greasy stains, laundry capsules were more effective than the other 2 types in removing enzymatic stains. It was found that powdered detergents were generally weaker in removing chocolate stains while liquid detergents had quite satisfactory performance. (c) Stains that can be oxidised (including tea, coffee, blueberry, tomato sauce, red wine, soy sauce, etc.) In terms of food stains, most powdered and liquid detergents were effective in removing blueberry, tomato sauce, and soy sauce stains, but their performance in removing coffee, red wine, and mustard stains varied. For stubborn tea stains, the laundry capsules could effectively lighten the stains. Some liquid detergents could slightly lighten tea stains, but powdered detergents could not . It was quite difficult to remove paints due to their chemical nature. All 3 types of laundry products did not perform satisfactorily in removing paints, but their performance was generally better in removing water-based paints compared with oil-based ones. Beware of colour retention If you choose a laundry detergent with poor colour retention properties, your clothes could easily be "transformed"! In terms of colour retention, the vast majority of liquid detergents performed better than powdered detergents, while laundry capsules gave satisfactory overall performance. Powdered detergents vs liquid detergents Although the overall performance of laundry capsules was satisfactory, their price was higher than powdered detergents and liquid detergents. In addition, they are not as common as powdered and liquid detergents, so most people still prefer powdered or liquid detergents. The ingredients of powdered and liquid detergents are similar. The biggest difference is that solid fillers are added to powdered detergents for ease of usage and prevention ofcaking. In addition, although powdered detergents have a lower cost per wash , they must be dissolved in water first. Excessive use may stain dark clothes and affect their appearance. On the contrary, liquid detergents can be easily mixed with water and do not form granules, which are more environmentally friendly compared with powdered detergents. Would you like to know more about the performance of your laundry product? Please read the product tests in detail in the article, “34 Models of Laundry Detergents (Powder, Liquid and Capsules) Tested 4 Models With Outstanding Stain Removing Performance”, Choice Magazine, Issue 493 (Chinese version only). Smart laundry tips Do you think choosing suitable laundry products is enough? If you don’t do the laundry properly, even fine clothes can be ruined! Wash frequently to prevent musty smell Due to the humidity in Hong Kong, if clothes are not placed and handled properly, bacteria can easily grow and give a musty smell, especially in clothes made of synthetic fibres. To remove the odour, you should wash sweat-soaked clothes as soon as possible, and dry them thoroughly after washing. Regular cleaning is important In order to maintain its performance and prevent the growth of bacteria, as well as to keep the washing machine clean, consumers should regularly clean their washing machines with the drum cleaning function or run a washing cycle without clothes and laundry detergent in water at 60 °C or above. As the old Chinese saying goes, “the mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen his tools”. If you want to clean your clothes properly, a powerful washing machine that saves water as well as electricity is indeed very important. Click here to read the article, “Washing Machine: Is It Possible to Save Water and Electricity Concurrently?” (Chinese version only) for thorough preparation. Can laundry be done in an eco-friendly way? In recent years, public awareness of environmental issues has increased, and environmental factors are often considered when consumers choose laundry products. The market is also full of products that claim to be "biodegradable". Are these products really eco-friendly? These products actually only focus on their surfactants or main ingredients. However, to determine whether a product agrees with the idea of sustainable consumption, consumers will require a holistic evaluation of factors such as the recyclability of its packaging and the reduction in emission levels during its production and transportation before making comparisons. Pick products that are truly natural and organic In order to help consumers differentiate between products, many laundry detergents carry labels which are issued by third party certification bodies, such as: Environmental Choice New Zealand (owned and endorsed by the New Zealand Government) Safer Choice (a voluntary programme under the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s certification of organic production, handling and labelling) ECOCERT (an organic certification body founded in France in 1991) USDA Certified Biobased Products (a voluntary labelling programme of biobased products managed by the USDA) China Environmental Labelling (a labelling certification programme by the PRC Government) To choose a suitable laundry detergent, check its list of ingredients and if it has been awarded the corresponding label by a certification body. For more tips on how to select laundry detergents, please refer to the article, “Find Out If the Ecolabel on the Laundry Detergent Is Certified”, CHOICE Magazine, Issue 494 (Chinese version only).
3 different types of washing machines 1) Front-loading type (commonly referred as ‘Big Eyes’); 2) European top-loading type which typically has a narrower body, and 3) Japanese top-loading type (also known as the impeller type). In front-loading and European top-loading types, the drum rotates around a horizontal axis and the clothes are tumbled inside the drum. In impeller type, the drum rotates around a vertical axis. Performance showdown The Consumer Council recently tested 18 washing machine models on their energy-saving and water-saving performances, cleaning performance, noise level and vibration reduction, etc. Here is a summary of the results for your reference: Which type had the best cleaning performance? In general, the front-loading and European top-loading models which could heat up water seemed to be more effective in delivering the cleansing power of laundry detergent. Although the impeller models did not have any heating function and washed with room-temperature water only, the test results showed that some models did not necessarily give inferior cleaning results. Duration of the washing phase For the same type of washing machine, the longer the washing phase, generally the cleaner the laundry would be. Many models had a ‘quick wash’ cycle which, e.g., could complete washing, rinsing and spinning within 15 minutes. However, this cycle should only be used for smaller load and less-soiled clothes. Which type had the least detergent residuals after rinsing? The lesser the amount of detergent remained on the clothes, the better the rinsing performance was. A number of the front-loading and impeller models scored well in this test! Were the clothes still very wet after spinning? The water-extraction performance of the tested models varied. For example, in ‘cotton clothing’ session, the front-loading models varied between 42% and 112% in remaining moisture content. Due to their lower spinning speed, the impeller models generally had inferior water-extraction performance. Which type of washing machine has the shortest wash cycle? To complete the laundry in a fast fashion can be very helpful when you face endless housework. Which type of washing machine has a shorter wash cycle? In the test, all the impeller models performed well, taking about 7 to 20 minutes to wash each kilogram of clothes. The performance of the front-loading models varied significantly, taking about 17 to 59 minutes for each kilogram of laundry. European top-loading models took longer on average with 32 to 44 minutes for each kilogram of laundry. Achieving water and energy savings at the same time may not be possible Wishing that your washing machine can save water and energy at the same time? Well, it may not be possible in reality! In terms of energy consumption, since the impeller type does not have a heating function, and the spinning speed is generally lower as well as their wash cycles are often shorter, in general, they consume less energy than the front-loading type and European top-loading type. In terms of water consumption, since the clothes are tumbled in the front-loading and European top-loading models, there is no need to fill up the whole drum with water. Therefore, they generally use less water than the impeller type. Furthermore, using cold water or turning on the ‘eco’ mode can help save energy. Sorting clothes according to their materials and soil level, and using the appropriate wash cycles can help achieve water and energy savings more effectively! Pay attention to child safety features In terms of child safety features, the front-loading and European top-loading types are better as their doors are locked during the wash cycle. Because the drum opening of the impeller type is on top and wider in general, if the child lock function is not activated, the risk of children accidentally falling into the machine is higher. Moreover, the drum is filled with water during the wash cycle, which may not be drained automatically when the lid is opened, thus children may drown if they accidentally fall headfirst into the drum. Therefore, parents must pay attention to whether the washing machine is equipped with a child lock function when purchasing as it will help reduce the risk of accidents. Maintenance tips It is not cheap to buy a washing machine, so how to maintain and use it properly to prolong its useful life? Some models have a "drum cleaning" cycle, which should be used at least once a month. Consumers can also clean the drum regularly by running a hot water cycle with an empty drum (i.e., without any clothes and detergent). Avoid washing too many clothes at one time to reduce the vibration level of the drum during high-speed spinning. This can reduce the chance of mechanical damage. Use an appropriate amount of laundry detergent according to the instructions on the packaging. Using too much detergent may result in excessive foam and affect the operation of the machine. If the spinning speed is adjustable, consider lowering the speed to reduce the chance of mechanical damage as well as wear and tear on clothes. Extra: Some ‘eco’ tips Use cold water or the ‘eco’ mode to help save energy. Sort clothes according to their material and soil level and use the appropriate wash cycle in accordance with the user’s manual. This can help save water and energy more effectively. Try to wash with a full load. Using excessive amount of laundry detergent may not enhance the cleaning performance. It will only be a waste of money and may even cause environmental pollution. For the full report on the test, please refer to the article ‘Impeller-Type Front-Loading Type European Top-Loading Type Which Model Consumes Less Energy or Water’ (Chinese version only) in issue # 529 of CHOICE Magazine.
Buying infant formula: Which is the right “stage” for my baby? “When should my baby switch to Stage 2 formula?” “Can my baby continue to consume Stage 1 formula instead of changing to Stage 2 or Stage 3?” Parents may often be puzzled when they hear others talk about infant formula stages. Actually, infant formulas that comply with the standards set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) can be divided into 4 stages (Stages 1 – 4). Stage 1 (infant formula) It is suitable for newborn babies until 12 months old and is intended as a substitute for breast milk. This formula is specially made to satisfy the nutritional requirements of babies without additional supplements. Stage 2 (follow-up formula) It is also known as the “big baby’s formula”. It is intended as a substitute for breast milk or infant formula. It is suitable for babies who are older than 6 months but younger than 36 months as they are starting to ingest solid foods. As they begin to ingest diverse foods, Stage 2 formula can be taken as a liquid diet component but should not be treated as the only source of nutrients. Stage 3 and Stage 4 (follow-up formulas) These are suitable for babies aged one or above for acquiring extra nutrients. It is not difficult to find out the stage of a particular infant formula as it is usually indicated on the container in a larger font size. When should my baby switch to “big baby’s formula”? Perhaps many parents are puzzled by this question. Although “big baby’s formula” is a bit different from infant formula in terms of ingredients, there is no need to switch as long as the baby has other food sources to attain adequate nutrition. When the baby is over 1 year old and has a more diversified diet, the formula will become supplementary, and parents may consider switching to cow’s milk until the baby is weaned onto solid foods. Babies between ages 1 and 2 can take whole milk as they require sufficient fats for development. For those between 2 and 5, parents may consider low-fat milk as long as they have sufficient nutrient intake from solid foods. Children above 5 may switch to skimmed milk as excessive fats and calories may increase the risks of developing obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Let’s take a look at the ingredients of infant formulas in advertisements! In the advertisements, we often hear manufacturers claiming that their products contain ingredients such as probiotics, DHA and PhD, which contribute to the development of the brain, eyesight and immune system in babies, as well as improve their bowel movements. However, are these ingredients really capable of providing sufficient nutrients and supporting babies’ normal development as claimed by the manufacturers? Probiotic Probiotics are active microorganisms that can improve the balance of intestinal microbiota. Sufficient intake of probiotics is good for health. The more representative probiotics include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus. Prebiotic It is claimed that prebiotics (also known as prebiotic fibres) can improve babies’ intestinal health. They are organic substances that cannot be digested in the human body but can stimulate probiotic growth or activity in the intestines. Prebiotics are usually oligosaccharides and soluble dietary fibres. DHA DHA, commonly associated with brain development in babies, is the abbreviation for docosahexaenoic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid (or ω-3 fatty acid or n-3 fatty acid). In our daily diet, our intake of DHA mainly comes from fish, especially oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies and sweetfish. AA Similarly, it is claimed that AA can also help in the development of the brain and nervous system. AA is the abbreviation for arachidonic acid and is a type of omega-6 fatty acid (or ω-6 fatty acid or n-6 fatty acid). Intake of AA in our daily diet mainly comes from animal fats, liver, eggs and fish. Breast milk naturally contains DHA and AA, but cow’s milk does not. Therefore, DHA and AA are additives in cow’s milk . Besides, healthy babies can produce DHA and AA from the linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid in infant formulas. Regarding the above ingredients, although there are individual studies indicating that adding these ingredients in infant formula products is beneficial to babies, more research is needed to prove their clinical efficacies and whether they should be added as essential ingredients. According to the current standards of CAC, these ingredients are not essential in infant formula products. β-Glucan It is claimed that β-Glucan can enhance babies’ immune systems. β-Glucan is a form of carbohydrates that is mainly composed of the cell walls of fungi, yeast, some bacteria and grains (such as oats and barley). However, according to current findings, there is not enough evidence to prove that β-Glucan can enhance the immune system of babies. PhD (Phospholipid) PhD is neither a pizza restaurant nor an academic degree here. It is a type of lipids that is claimed to facilitate the development of babies’ brains. Breast milk and cow’s milk naturally contain PhD. According to infant formula labels, the source of their PhD is from the added "emulsifier (soy lecithin)". Lecithin is actually a common ingredient in foods. Apart from soybeans, eggs, liver, beef and peanuts, vegetables and fruits such as cauliflowers, potatoes, oranges, and apples also contain lecithin. However, there is not enough evidence to prove that PhD is especially beneficial to babies’ intellectual development. Hydrolyzed formula Proteins are formed by linking discrete amino acids. Under normal circumstances, human bodies (including babies’) can digest and absorb proteins after ingestion. What are hydrolyzed proteins? Through hydrolysis, long-chain proteins are broken down into shorter proteins or free amino acids. It is claimed that the process helps babies to digest proteins more easily. Infant formulas containing hydrolyzed proteins are also called hydrolyzed formulas. According to the degree of hydrolysis, they can be classified as "amino acid-based formula", "extensively hydrolyzed formula" or "partially hydrolyzed formula”. The first two are also known as "hypoallergenic infant formula". "Extensively hydrolyzed formula" is generally used as a therapeutic formula for babies who cannot digest protein in cow's milk or are allergic to it. However, there is still not enough evidence to prove that "partially hydrolyzed formula" specifically improves babies’ digestion, absorption and immunity. In conclusion, according to the standards of CAC and expert opinions, the above-mentioned ingredients are not essential ingredients for infant formulas. Basically, the ingredients of infant formulas are similar across brands, so parents should not be overly concerned and influenced by the product claims and promotions. Instead, parents should check the product labels and consider factors such as their actual need and the supply of products. What can product labels tell you? 1. Food label and ingredient list You can check the ingredients such as lactose, vegetable oil and skimmed milk powder emulsifier, etc. in infant formulas to find out if they contain possible allergens for babies. 2. Nutrition information Most product labels on infant formula containers indicate the nutrients and their amounts per 100g so that parents can find out the type and proportion of nutrients that their babies ingest. In addition, the labels also indicate the nutrients per 100ml so that parents can check whether their babies’ daily intake of nutrients is above or below the standard. 3. Preparation steps and recommended feeding amount Different manufacturers may use different production processes and methods, so the preparation steps and amount of infant formula to be used are also different. If the infant formula is not prepared according to the instructions, you may end up with undissolved powder or an over-diluted feed. At the same time, most infant formulas have a feeding chart which shows the recommended amount of infant formula and warm water to be used per feeding, and the number of feeding per day, according to the baby’s age (in months). It is best to feed your baby according to the recommended amount, otherwise you may end up with a feed that is too concentrated or diluted, which will lead to 2 problems: Prolonged intake of concentrated infant formula: Babies will cry due to thirst. Parents may mistakenly think that their babies are still hungry and feed them again, leading to overfeeding; Prolonged intake of over-diluted infant formula: Babies will feel hungry and cry shortly after feeding, and may suffer from malnutrition in the long run. (Note: The specific amount for each feeding depends on the needs of individual babies or the instructions of medical practitioners.) 4. Shelf life Since infant formulas do not decay very easily, consumers can tell their shelf life by referring to the “Best Before” dates printed on sealed infant formula containers. However, once opened, infant formulas can only be kept for 3-4 weeks in general (or according to the instructions on the packaging). Unsealed products that have been left for a long time should be discarded. Therefore, consumers should consider buying products in smaller sizes if the serving is small. 5. Special storage or instructions of use If a particular infant formula requires special storage methods to maintain its shelf life or requires special instructions of use, these requirements must be specified on the labels. Infant formula preparation: 7 steps to know As sterilization is not yet adopted in the existing manufacturing processes of infant formulas, it is necessary to pay extra attention to hygiene and food safety when preparing infant formulas to avoid harming babies’ developing digestive system. Let’s look at the following steps and precautions: 1. Cleaning Clean your hands and surroundings properly. After washing your hands with liquid soap and water, dry them with a piece of clean cloth or tissue paper. 2. Preparing the baby bottle Take out the sterilised baby bottle. If there is condensation inside the bottle, discard it first. 3. Measuring the amount Measure the amount of infant formula and water in the prescribed ratio as per instructions. The size of the spoon provided in the container differs across brands, therefore consumers should use the spoon provided by the original manufacturer. Besides, do not compress the powder in the spoon to avoid adding extra infant formula and making the milk too concentrated. 4. Preparing infant formula Boil tap or distilled water and allow it to cool for no more than 30 minutes. Use water of at least 70°C to prepare infant formula in order to kill any harmful bacteria in it. However, one should note that water which is too hot will destroy the vitamins in the infant formula. Also, avoid using mineral water to prepare infant formula due to its high mineral content. Remember to pour water first, and then add formula powder. Fill the spoon with the formula powder and level off with a clean knife. Do not compress the formula powder into the spoon. 5. Dissolving formula powder Put the teat , cap and other components on the baby bottle, and then gently shake or rotate the bottle to completely dissolve the formula powder. Do not shake too vigorously, lest a large amount of air may enter, causing foaming. 6. Cooling the hot milk At this point, the temperature of the milk is still not suitable for consumption. You need to put the baby bottle under running water or in cold water to cool it down to around body temperature. It should be noted that the water level must be lower than the bottle mouth and should not come into contact with the teat. You can test the temperature by dripping some milk on the inside of your wrist or using a colorimetric temperature patch. 7. Consuming immediately To prevent bacterial growth, the prepared infant formula should be consumed immediately and should not be left at room temperature for too long. It should be thrown away if not consumed within 2 hours. Once the bottle has been sucked on, bacteria from the oral cavity may contaminate the bottle and its content and therefore it should not be reheated for further consumption. If you want to store prepared infant formula, you should minimise the time it is left at room temperature. You can put the prepared infant formula in the refrigerator (but not the freezer) and store it at 4°C or below. Unconsumed infant formula that has been stored in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours should also be discarded. Things to note when feeding babies 1. Consume prepared infant formula After removing the prepared infant formula from the refrigerator, you can put the baby bottle in warm water to warm up the content. This process should be done within 15 minutes to reduce the growth of germs. Avoid heating milk in the microwave because the uneven temperature of the heated milk can cause burns to babies. Shake the bottle well before feeding. 2. Do not let babies consume infant formulas by themselves Do not raise the bottles and let babies suck the bottles by themselves due to risks of suffocation. 3. Know when the baby is full Look out for signals that the baby may be full during feeding. If the baby stops sucking, parents should not force the baby to finish the bottle. 4. Do not let the baby sleep with the bottle If the baby has fallen asleep during feeding, you should remove the bottle. Do not let the baby develop a habit of sleeping with the bottle which may increase the risks of tooth decay. Is my baby allergic to cow’s milk? If your baby shows signs of discomfort after being fed with formula containing cow’s milk proteins, it may be suffering from galactosemia or allergic to cow’s milk proteins. Babies who are allergic to cow's milk proteins may also be allergic to soya and goat milk proteins, and therefore soya or goat milk formulas are also not suitable for consumption. Parents should consult medical staff to find out whether their babies need special medical formulas. Will my baby suffer from constipation after consuming infant formulas? In fact, the protein content in infant formulas may be related to constipation. Milk proteins can be roughly divided into whey and casein. Cow’s milk contains a higher proportion of casein compared with breast milk, and its physical and chemical properties are also different. The casein in cow's milk is more difficult to digest by babies. In addition, dry and hard stools are also related to the fat content in infant formulas. The palmitic acids in infant formulas are in the Sn-1 and Sn-3 positions of triglycerides. After being released by digestive enzymes, free palmitic acids will combine with calcium in the intestines to form calcium soaps, which will lead to dry and hard stools. As calcium and iron are usually added to infant formulas, this makes babies’ stools more solid. However, since babies can consume other foods after 6 months, constipation can be eased if their diet includes enough fruits and vegetables. Breastfeeding is still the top choice Breastfeeding is actually the best option for mothers. First, there is no need to prepare infant formula and to worry about water quality and the cleanliness of utensils. Second, breast milk has all the necessary nutrients for babies, and adapts to the living environment of both the mother and the baby to meet babies’ needs. It can also improve babies’ resistance to illnesses. The palmitic acid in breast milk is at the Sn-2 position of triglycerides. After digestion, it is easily absorbed by the intestines. Therefore, breastfeeding is less likely to cause dry and hard stools. In addition, breastfeeding time is the most intimate moment between mothers and babies, which can help the development of babies’ cognitive ability and is critical for the growth of babies. Breastfeeding can also reduce the mothers’ risks of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer. The Consumer Council tested 15 pre-packaged infant formulas on the market to assess product safety and the actual nutrient content. Watch the video below to learn about the results: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM5YGwElxP0 (Chinese version only) For the detailed report, please refer to the article, “Infant Formulas Tested, 9 Models Were Found to Contain Contaminants and Carcinogens” CHOICE Magazine, Issue 526 (Chinese version only).
1. Number of sheets and size The Consumer Council (or the “Council”) found that the average number of sheets per roll from different brands was roughly between 200 – 300, which represented a difference of about 100 sheets. The total length of each roll also varied, ranging from 20m – 40m, which was a two-fold difference. 2. Net weight Since the length, width, and thickness of toilet paper from different brands are different, in addition to evaluate its value for money by length, we can also consider its net weight. The net weight of a toilet roll (i.e., after removing packing material and paper tube) on the market ranged roughly between 80g – 200g. The price of toilet paper per 100 g of net weight ranged between $1.6 – $3.6, which again represented approximately a two-fold difference. 3. Paper quality Of course, judging whether the toilet paper is of good value depend not only on its net weight, we should also consider the paper quality. Generally speaking, 4-ply paper had more strength than 3-ply paper. Most of the samples tested by the Council scored well in moisture absorption and softness. 4. 12 rolls vs. 10 rolls package size, which one is better? Even a savvy consumer may not know which package size (12 rolls vs. 10 rolls) represent better value for money. The Council had tested various samples from brands that offered both sizes and found that the average net weight and price per toilet roll were similar in both package sizes. But overall, the 12-roll size was still a better choice in terms of value for money. 5. Pick the right place to buy toilet paper Do you usually buy toilet paper from a supermarket or a pharmacy? From the Council’s investigation, it was found that the prices of toilet paper in drug stores, pharmacies or household stores were generally more stable than those in supermarkets. But the choice of brands and models might be limited. Furthermore, supermarkets tended to launch promotions on different brands and models from time to time, and typically gave discounts for bulk-buy. Therefore, consumers are advised to make comparisons between different suppliers. Spend some time to save more money! 6. Toilet doesn’t have a strong flush? Pay attention to how easy the toilet paper disintegrates! Reminder: If you tend to use more toilet paper each time, but have a weak-flushing toilet or a drain pipe that is prone to blockage, you then need to pay attention to the ease of disintegration of paper in water and disposal through sewage. The Council had conducted a test previously and put different brands of toilet paper in water which was constantly stirred. It was found that some samples did “break up “after 8 minutes, but the sizes were still quite big, and took longer time to disperse. In addition to the above indicators, the Council also found that toilet rolls that are heavier, more tightly rolled, not easy to squeeze, and have a larger diameter but a smaller tube are generally of better value. Toilet paper that has been embossed is usually loosely rolled. 7. Environmental protection can also be a consideration Consumers may also want to consider from an “environmental” perspective. Unlike other papers, toilet paper can’t be recycled. Just imagine the number and speed of trees being cut down if we only use wood pulp to make toilet paper. It is still quite rare in Hong Kong to find toilet paper that has certain recycled content. However, a few models on the market indicate that they use materials which come from plantations or forests that are certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is a third party organization that promotes responsible management of forests. Consumers may consider these products when making purchase decisions. In addition to wood pulp, you may have seen unbleached toilet paper that is made from bamboos. Bamboos grow faster than trees and have a shorter growth cycle. The use of bamboos may lessen, to some extent, the need to cut trees. By retaining its raw color and not using bleach or whitening chemicals, these bamboo products can help in reducing pollutants during the manufacturing process and adverse impact on the environment and forests. At the same time, they can also reduce consumers ‘exposure to chemical substances. Finally, don't miss the article, “Tests on Strength, Softness and Hygiene Measures of Toilet Paper. 2 Models Scored Well”. CHOICE Magazine, Issue 499. (Chinese version only). The Consumer Council tested samples of 25 different models of toilet paper on the market to compare their strength, softness and moisture absorption properties, etc. After reading this report, you will know which model performed better!
Hand washes "Antibacterial" hand washes – the label could be misleading Nowadays more and more hand wash products claim to have “antibacterial” properties, and are deemed indispensable during the pandemic. However, do you know that the effectiveness of plain hand washes is not necessarily inferior to that of “antibacterial” ones! Proper hand-washing practices would be more important The main purposes of hand washing are to remove dirt and reduce the number of microorganisms on the skin to a safe level. An antibacterial hand wash may not achieve its said effect if the washing process is too brief, as the active ingredients have not been able to stay on the skin long enough to take effect. As we quickly rinse off these products, gone also are their antibacterial effect. As shown by the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, recent research have indicated that hand wash products containing antibacterial ingredients have not brought additional health benefits to consumers. Some hand wash products on the market do not meet their claimed bactericidal efficacy. The Consumer Council tested 30 models of hand wash products on the market according to the European standard EN276:2009, and found out several of them had less than 35% efficacy in killing Escherichia coli (E. coli). Don't let “hand washing” become a mere ritual! Consumers may want to refer to the article “Several Models of Hand Wash Products Contained Preservatives or Contaminants that Might Induce Allergies. Bactericidal Efficacy Varied Considerably Among Products.” CHOICE Magazine, Issue 513, to find out what constitutes a good antibacterial hand wash product. Instead of the “antibacterial” label, proper hand-washing steps and practices are more crucial in achieving an effective wash. Traditional hand wash vs foaming hand wash vs soap bar Apart from its ingredients, the type or form of a hand wash product could also affect the cleaning habits and thus affecting its efficacy in removing bacteria. Some overseas studies have pointed out that as compared with a traditional hand wash, consumers generally take less time to scrub their hands when using a foam one, thus reducing the efficacy in removing bacteria. In recent years, many people have switched to traditional soap bars. But they are relatively difficult to produce rich lather. Therefore, when using soap bars, remember to wet your hands first. Consumers should also pay attention to the hygienic condition of the soap dish after use to ensure that it is dry and free of water. Otherwise, the soap dish could become a breeding ground for bacteria and microorganisms. Many hand wash products can deliver sufficient antibacterial effect. The key is to adjust our hand-washing habits according to the type of product to ensure that we have sufficient time to rub our hands and to allow the lather to perform its best function. Read on…... and find out more tips about hand washing! Hand washing triggers dermatitis? During this COVID-19 pandemic, many people complain about wrinkly hands due to frequent hand washing. Some even suffer from itchy skins and there are a number of causes for that. For example, some people may be allergic to certain ingredients of hand wash products such as preservatives, antibacterial ingredients or fragrance allergens, etc. Consumers who are perfume intolerant or suffer from fragrance sensitivity should avoid products containing cinnamal, citral, citronellol, coumarin, geraniol, hexyl cinnamal, linalool and limonene. In addition to allergies, improper practices / habits may also defect the purpose of hand washing. Applying excessive hand wash products or washing hands too frequently may strip the natural oils in our skin, causing it to dry out. Washing hands with very hot water may also cause certain damage to the skin. If the skin has cracks or is otherwise compromised, it becomes more difficult to remove pathogenic bacteria and, in some cases, may even lead to infection. Are you really sure that you know how to wash your hands properly? Hand-washing tips you need to know The simpler the action, the easier it could be overlooked! Proper hand-washing methods and procedures are more important than choosing the right product, because the incorrect use of hand wash products would not only inhibit their “antibacterial” performance, but might also lead to the above-mentioned counterproductive outcome. If clean water is not readily available, you can disinfect your hands with a hand sanitizer that has an alcohol content of at least 60%. As long you allow sufficient time and rub your hands (including areas under the nails and between the fingers) thoroughly, you could also achieve a good disinfecting result. Hand washing has become an essential part of our daily routine now. Consumers should learn the correct procedures without any delay. Now let´s take a look at the demonstration: My Hand Washing Journal – Birthday Episode. Don't forget to moisturize your hands! Is "glycerin" the magic ingredient? Over-washing could do harm to your hands, especially if you have dry skin or eczema. Hand washing could wash off the natural oils of the skin, thus destroying its natural barrier. However, if you apply a good moisturizer, you could still keep your hands supple and hydrated. How to choose among the various hand cream products? Actually, the moisturizing effect is related to the ingredient – "glycerin”. Glycerin is not only a good humectant, but also serves as a skin conditioning agent, which can absorb moisture and transfer it to the outer layer of skin (stratum corneum). It is commonly used in skin care products for the body and hands. Hand cream with glycerinas an important ingredient generally have a good moisturizing effect. However, to achieve a long-lasting moisturizing effect, hand cream should also perform the following critical function in addition to moisture replenishment. Moisture replenishment and retention work hand in hand For a long-lasting moisturizing effect, mere hydration is not enough. The reduction of moisture loss is equally important. Hand cream with good moisturizing effect can create a protective film on the skin surface to reduce the transepidermal water loss (TEWL). If the skin's natural barrier is compromised, moisture could escape, thus giving rise to a higher TEWL value. If the TEWL value drops after using a hand cream, it means that the product is effective in reducing moisture loss from the skin. The Consumer Council tested 13 models of hand cream available in Hong Kong. Some of the products showed a decrease in TEWL value of less than 5% after use, and some of them had significant improvement in reducing water loss. For more details, please refer to the article "A Must-Have For Autumn / Winter! First Ever Consumer Council´s Test – Which Hand Cream Products Represent Good Value For Money?” CHOICE Magazine, Issue 517. Use hand cream properly to achieve the best result Our smart consumers know the importance of moisturizing their hands before they become dry! After cleansing your hands and wiping them dry, applying hand cream within the critical window of a few minutes, and gently massage until it is completely absorbed. Remember not to ignore the fingers, fingertips and area between fingers. Overseas studies have estimated that on average, people use 1.7 grams of hand cream each time. However, the actual amount should depend on the skin condition, palm size, humidity, etc. Nowadays, consumers could easily wash their hands several times when they go out, they should consider bringing a small-size hand cream with them, and use it from time to time as necessary! Disinfectant cards / badges Do they live up to what their claim? During this pandemic, various forms of disinfectant lanyards (in the form of cards / badges / pens), etc. have come into the market, claiming that consumers could simply wear them or hang them on backpacks to achieve disinfecting effect. However, this seemingly easy-to-use anti-epidemic "new technology" lacks empirical support in the actual environment. Consumers should be cautious and not overly rely on these products for epidermic protection. The Consumer Council asked suppliers to provide supporting evidence regarding the claimed functions of the products. Although some suppliers responded, the majority of them were unable to prove that the products could effectively eliminate a particular virus or reduce the virus infectivity within a short period of time. Some products claimed to be able to kill 99.99% of bacteria, but the supporting data submitted by the supplier was lower than its claims. Such findings also indicated a possible violation of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, (Cap 362). Is the active ingredient "chlorine dioxide" really useful? Products generally claimed to emit chlorine dioxide (CIO2) to achieve disinfection effect. To a certain extent, CIO2 does have a disinfection effect, and some countries use it to improve the odor / taste of drinking water or as a bleaching agent in paper processing. In a confined space, high concentration of CIO2 can indeed kill bacteria (or even the notorious bacillus anthracis). However, people must be vacated from the space during this application to avoid associated health risks. Coming back to these disinfectant lanyards. Although these products may be able to emit CIO2, but in reality, its concentration level is far from sufficient to achieve the said disinfection effect. Furthermore, with the following restrictions, their anti-epidemic effect could be quite doubtful. Efficacy vanishes when using outdoor? There are numerous space and time constraints The general public would expect these disinfectant lanyards to provide protection as they stroll down the streets or stay outdoors. But in reality, consumers might be disappointed. The efficacy of these products could be seriously affected by various external environmental factors. Manufacturers usually recommend using these products in less-ventilated or even confined spaces. The efficacy could be further weakened in a windy environment. Some products recommended against exposure to humidity, moisture and direct sunlight, or even outdoor usage. Although many products on the market claimed to have 99.99% disinfection efficacy, click to watch this video to understand the control environments underpinning these experiments. The experiments were mostly carried out in confined laboratory environments, and over a time frame of 2 to 24 hours+, which was very different from real-life usage. If a product needs such a long time and very confined space to achieve the so-called efficacy, would it really meet your expectation? Don’t be deceived by the “pseudo- science” if you want to get real protection. For further details, please refer to the article “Getting What You Are Paying For? 7 Myths About Disinfectant Badges.” CHOICE Magazine, Issue 525. Wearable negative ion air purifier Can air purifiers protect against bacteria? Putting on a wearable air purifier has become a craze during the COVID-19 pandemic, specially after evidence showing that the virus can transmit through aerosols. However, simply purifying the air cannot prevent nor kill bacteria. Different models of wearable negative ion air purifiers vary considerably in performance, especially in the PM2.5 test. To read the detailed evaluation report, please refer to the article “Effects of Wearable Negative Ion Air Purifiers Could Be Dubious. Possibility of Triggering Secondary Pollution.” CHOICE Magazine, Issue 527. What are PM2.5 and CADR? In addition to bacteria and viruses, various pollutants can also be “intimidating”. Consumers must have heard of PM2.5 which has become “notorious” in recent years. PM2.5 refers to tiny particles with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less. Due to their small size, they are capable of penetrating deep into the human lungs after being inhaled, thus giving rise to health hazards. Therefore, one of the important functions of the air purifier is to remove these small and harmful particles. When choosing an air purifier, consumers should look for its Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) for reference, which measures its purifying effectiveness and ability in removing PM2.5. The air purifying effect can easily be affected by the environment Nowadays, many air purifiers are very small in size, and can even be worn around neck. However, the effectiveness of these wearable negative ion air purifiers, whether in an indoor or outdoor environment, is doubtful. When used outdoors, the continuous emissions of pollutants such as exhaust fumes (from vehicles) and cigarette smoke, etc., could reduce the effectiveness of air purifiers. If the user is walking around, the wearable air purifier might not be able to purify the surrounding air in a timely manner. In a windy environment, the negative ions generated by a wearable air purifier might be blown away from the users, thus weakening or eliminating its purifying effect. When used indoors, such as bus / MTR compartments, shopping malls or offices, pollutants might float towards the users due to air movement. This again would weaken the purifying effect.
Rediscover "Caffeine" Why is it called "caffeine"? Coffee can reinvigorate the mind, relieve fatigue and energise the body. All these effects are brought about by "caffeine". Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. Through stimulating the CNS, one can feel refreshed and become more focused. However, excessive intake will cause side effects such as an increase in heart rate and anxiety. In fact, caffeine is not unique to coffee. It can also be found in tea, cocoa and other plants. It is named “caffeine” as it was first discovered in coffee. After its discovery, caffeine has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Nowadays caffeine can be found in all types of drinks, such as Coke, milk tea, lemon tea, and even some chrysanthemum tea and sports drinks, giving consumers a boost of energy after consumption. Help! I might be a little addicted... The “love affair” with caffeine has made people focus only on the good aspect, such as its refreshing effect, but ignore the potential downside that it can be addictive. But as long as you avoid excessive intake, you can still enjoy coffee with peace of mind. Health organisations around the world have yet to suggest a universal standard for appropriate intake level, but children, adolescents, and people who suffer from high blood pressure, arrhythmia, mental illness, neurological diseases, and certain liver and kidney diseases, as well as women who are breastfeeding should pay attention to their intake level. Pregnant women are advised to limit their daily caffeine intake to no more than 200-300mg. If you find yourself becoming dependent on caffeine, it may be time to cut down. Instead of stopping abruptly, you can try to gradually reduce the amount, or replace it with "decaffeinated" coffee first! Weak coffee might not contain less caffeine It is more difficult than you think to figure out the caffeine content. Want to drink coffee without consuming too much caffeine? Many people tend to avoid drinking dark, bitter coffee. However, the strength of taste does not necessarily reflect the caffeine content. Consumers should not “guesstimate” the caffeine content purely based on the taste. Food labels may not have the right information on caffeine Have you noticed that the word “caffeine” pops up on the food labels of many energy drinks, but cannot be found on coffee products? It is because under Hong Kong legislation, only non-naturally occurring ingredients need to be listed. As caffeine exists naturally in coffee, there is no need for extra disclosure. Furthermore, food and beverages sold in Hong Kong do not need to disclose their caffeine content. If you belong to the high-risk groups mentioned above, then remember to pay extra attention! A Must-have for Urban Espresso Lovers: Automatic Espresso Machines Select an espresso machine carefully to make that perfect cup of espresso Want to enjoy the indulgent aroma and taste of fresh coffee both at work and at home? Maybe it is time to invest in an espresso machine! Espresso machines have many functions nowadays, and some even have a milk frother, just like a self-contained mini café in itself! In addition to the flavour of the espresso, other deciding factors include the speed of the machine, energy efficiency, drip, etc. Espresso machines can generally be divided into 3 categories: Semi-automatic: Only ground coffee can be used. It involves a more manual process, such as grinding coffee beans, loading the portafilter, and tamping. Coffee enthusiasts could really enjoy the process given the high level of customisation and hands-on experience. Fully automatic: Coffee beans are placed into the machine, which grinds the coffee beans into powder then brews fresh espresso. This option offers a balance between convenience and enjoyment. Pod / capsule coffee machines: This type of coffee machine uses pre-packaged pods or capsules. You can enjoy a fresh cup of coffee by simply inserting the pod / capsule and pressing a button. It is the most convenient option though it does not offer much room for customisation. Putting the same beans into different espresso machines may produce vastly different results. For example, the temperature and aroma could vary a lot. No wonder the price range of espresso machines runs the gamut from below $1,000 to over $10,000. Before buying an espresso machine, you may want to read the article “Speed of Espresso Machines Could Vary by 3 Times” from CHOICE Magazine, Issue 504. The Consumer Council tested a number of popular espresso machines, which will hopefully help you to select your ideal model to make that perfect cup! “Convenience” vs “Environment” – Make the right choice today Nowadays, capsule espresso machines are becoming increasingly popular. However, at least 1 capsule is used for every cup of espresso, which is indeed not environmentally friendly. In fact, not all capsules are made of plastic — some are made of aluminium. The former cannot be recycled, but the latter can! Consumers can bring the used aluminium capsules back to the stores or to have them collected during the next delivery. If you opt for plastic capsules, then at least don’t waste the coffee grounds after use. Similar to ordinary coffee grounds, these residues have many uses (especially as a deodorizer) and can be recycled. Much like activated carbon, these coffee grounds are porous. Once dried, they can be used to absorb moisture and deodorize, and are ideal for shoe cabinets or refrigerators. If your kitchen sink and drain pipes have an unpleasant or greasy smell, instead of using chemical products, you may try sprinkling coffee grounds in the sink and rinse with running water. For more espresso machine reviews and tips, please refer to the article, “Espresso Made by Some Espresso Machines are Not Hot Enough” from CHOICE Magazine, Issue 475. Watch Out! Energy Drinks May Have a Higher Caffeine Content than Coffee! Energy drinks and sports drinks are different For those who don't like coffee but are in need of an energy boost, "energy drinks" are considered by many as good substitutes. Do you know that energy drinks are different from sports drinks, and that consuming energy drinks during physical exercise may pose health risks? Energy drinks usually contain caffeine. In some instances, a bottle of energy drink may contain more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Although they can increase alertness and augment physical performance, one must pay attention during consumption. On the other hand, sports drinks usually contain electrolytes which help replenish water and electrolytes lost during exercise, and are generally caffeine-free. Although many stores put these 2 types of drinks next to each other, they are actually very different. Sports drinks can’t boost energy. If you’re tired in the office, sports drinks will not help. On the other hand, energy drinks are not intended for consumption during exercise. It can even be counterproductive and prevent the body from performing at its best. Misconception: Energy drinks are energy boosters Don't be fooled by the name! The word "energy" does not translate to "calories" in a nutritional sense. Instead, caffeine is added for a rapid energy boost. However, caffeine cannot eliminate fatigue during exercise. Instead, it can dehydrate and hinder the body's recovery process, making the body “energy-less”. The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) recommended consumers to avoid consuming energy drinks during physical exercises to prevent people with genetic conditions from having severe adverse reactions or heart failures. In addition to caffeine, these energy drinks are often loaded with sugar. If you want to pick the right drink to boost performance, you may want to read the article “Energy Drinks Contain Caffeine and Sugar. 1 Cup of Coffee is Equivalent to 10 Sugar Cubes” from CHOICE Magazine, Issue 451.
6 different types of tofu which differ in nutrient content and taste Tofu that can be found on the local market is mainly be divided into 2 types: “Chinese” and “Japanese”, each of which can be further divided into 3 more types: Chinese tofu: Can be mainly divided into firm tofu (also known as northern tofu), soft tofu (also known as southern tofu) and also glucono delta-lactone (GDL) tofu. Firm tofu： The protein content is the highest and the moisture level is the lowest. Mainly use bittern or magnesium chloride as coagulant. It is firm in texture and rich in magnesium (which promotes bone growth, and activates enzymes to regulate hormones and gastrointestinal functions). Soft tofu： Its protein and moisture content are both medium. Mainly use calcium sulphate as coagulant. It has a softer and more delicate texture and has a higher calcium content. GDL tofu： It has the lowest protein content but the highest moisture level. It is very soft and delicate in texture. Japanese tofu： Can be mainly divided into “Momen”, “Kinugoshi” and “Jutten-Filled Silken” tofu. “Momen” and “Kinugoshi” tofu use bittern or magnesium chloride as coagulant, therefore having a higher magnesium content. Momen tofu： It has a higher protein and lower moisture content. Its texture is slightly rough and firm, and cotton cloth or mold imprints typically remain. Kinugoshi tofu： It has a lower protein content and is higher in moisture level. It has a soft and delicate texture. Jutten-filled silken tofu： It has a lower protein content and is higher in moisture level. It has a very delicate texture. This kind of silken tofu is more hygienic as coagulation takes place inside a sealed container. And the coagulation / heating process can help to reduce germs. As firm or hard tofu has less moisture content and is firmer in texture, it is normally used for grilling, frying, braising or stewing. As for soft or silken tofu, given its delicate texture and high moisture level, it’s more suitable for steaming or making salad. Tips on eating tofu Alternate the intake of tofu and meat：Tofu is rich in soy protein and contains amino acids that are missing in cereal proteins. Alternate the intake of tofu and meat can help people better absorb animal and plant-based protein.； Plant-based diet: The soybean oil in tofu is a vegetable oil and is mainly made up of unsaturated fatty acids. It also contains more phospholipids, which can effectively reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and total cholesterol. Studies have even pointed out that a diet based on plant-based foods can help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, etc., as well as in weight control. Avoid soy-only diet: Tofu is low in certain minerals such as iron (to maintain normal hematopoietic function) and zinc (which is an essential component of numerous enzymes in human body that play a vital role in growth and development, cognition, wound healing and regulating immune function, etc.,). It also contains phytic acid which may inhibit the absorption of some minerals. Therefore, vegetarians should not rely heavily on tofu or soy products for protein and other nutrients, and should eat other foods to supplement different nutrients. Watch out! The following groups of people should pay special attention when consuming tofu! People who have soy allergy: Avoid consuming tofu. People who suffer from gout: Tofu has a high purine content, so people suffering from gout should pay attention to the amount of tofu they consume, and should avoid consuming other foods that are “high in purine” such as mushrooms, fish, dried beans and internal organs at the same time. Consult a doctor or nutritionist about the right quantity to consume to avoid excessive intake. People who suffer from or have had kidney stones: It is said that tofu and spinach cannot be eaten at the same time, because tofu contains calcium and spinach has oxalic acid. Mixing the two could produce oxalate stones and form kidney stones. But in fact, only prolonged and voluminous consumption of tofu and spinach at the same time will pose this risk. However, people who are suffering from or have had kidney stones should pay attention to the amount of consumption to avoid relapses. People who suffer from breast cancer and under medical treatment: Studies have shown that the phytoestrogens in soybeans may interfere with the effectiveness of breast cancer drugs, so it is prudent to consult a doctor or nutritionist before eating tofu. How to preserve tofu If you are dealing with prepackaged tofu, then it is quite simple and straightforward. But how about non-prepackaged (or plate) tofu? Make good use of cling wrap: Tofu can absorb the smell of other foods easily, so you should first wrap the tofu with cling wrap to prevent it from absorbing the smell of other foods. Storage for 1 day – soak in clean water: If you intend to consume the tofu within the same day of purchase or by next morning, then place the tofu in a container with clean water and store it in the vegetable (or lower) compartment of the refrigerator. Storage for 2 days – soak in boiling water first and then in clean water: Wrap the tofu in a cotton cloth and soak it in boiling water for about 1 minute. Then take the tofu out and place it in cold water to prevent cracking. Change the water: Change the water daily to ensure that the tofu is clean. Check the temperature: Avoid storing tofu in the “colder” area of the refrigerator to avoid freezing and cracking. Cook and consume the tofu as soon as possible after taking it out of the refrigerator, and do not place it at room temperature for long to prevent spoilage. In addition to the above-mentioned basic knowledge on tofu, the nutrient content of tofu of the same type but different brands can differ considerably. Earlier, the Consumer Council collected 40 common prepackaged and non-prepackaged tofu samples for testing, and found that more than 70% of the tofu samples were not "low-fat" and only 2 were "high-calcium". If you want further details, please refer to the article “40 tofu samples: only 2 were “high-calcium” and only 1 in 4 could be classified as “low-fat” CHOICE Magazine, Issue 504 (for Chinese version only)".