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Plastic is the secret behind Kovai's attractively-designed cup idli

Captivated by its attractive size and shape, ‘cup idlies’ are in great demand at special functions in Coimbatore. “Unaware of the ill effects of the idles, people love them,” said PK Selvaraj, an activist and farmer from Coimbatore.

Plastic is the secret behind Kovais attractively-designed cup idli
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Batter being poured into plastic cups to prepare idlies at a wedding in Coimbatore

Chennai

Fascinated by the fluffy tiffin at a relative’s wedding on Wednesday, Selvaraj entered the kitchen to see how it was prepared. He was in for a shock as the idlies were made using small plastic cups. He immediately shot a video of the process and posted it on Facebook, which has gone viral in social media. He shared the details of the ‘cup idli’ preparation.  Cooks were seen pouring the batter in small plastic cups which were arranged on idli plates. The cups were used several times for making idlies.” 

When Selvaraj interacted with the caterer, he was told that the item was sought after by customers as it looks different from a normal idli. “Baking idli in plastic cups also saves time and reduces wastage for cooks,” he added. 

Elaborating the ill effects of preparing hot food in plastic that could even cause cancer, he made an appeal to the catering contractor to explain the same to parties who ordered ‘cup idli’. 

“This practice of making idli in plastic cups is more dangerous than the banned practice of using plastic covers for packing tea,” he said. Selvaraj shared the video and pictures on his Facebook account which were viewed more than 2.5 lakh times in two days (Thursday and Friday). “I am planning to take up this issue with food safety authorities,” he added.

In September 2016, Coimbatore based consumer body Citizen’s Voice Club (CVC) took up the issue of idli baked on plastic sheets (instead of cloth) at hotels in Kovaipudur and RS Puram in the city. “We wrote to the Food Secretary and Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Commissioner and did not get a reply till we wrote to them again a month later,” CVC president CM Jayaraman said. 

“Since then those eateries about whom we complained have stopped this practice. But baking idli on plastic sheets and cups are still in practice at a few other leading hotels and eateries." 

"Mere fines will not put an end to this ill practice. A public helpline number should be launched to report such incidents to the authorities concerned and stringent action should be taken against offenders as it is an issue pertaining to public health,” he added.

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