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Frequently asked questions about the use of customers' own refillable cups for "Coffee to go"

BfR FAQ of 26 June 2018

Customers using their own refillable cups for "coffee to go" has become a fairly widespread practice. More and more providers, such as filling stations, bakery outlets, cafes and late-opening stores, refill reusable cups brought by customers with hot drinks. People who enjoy a cup of hot coffee, tea or chocolate when they are out and about but want to avoid the waste produced by disposable cups can choose from a wide range of reusable cups, including thermo mugs. What private users should keep in mind in order to avoid potential health risks when refilling their cups is the subject of these FAQs from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

To ensure that nothing prevents people from enjoying a hot drink from a hygiene point of view, refillable cups should be empty and clean. This means that consumers should regularly wash their reusable cups with hot water and washing-up liquid or in the dishwasher, if suitable, and allow them to dry completely after rinsing. No matter whether the beverage is served or filled in a self-service system, the refillable cup should not make contact with the filler spout from which the hot drink flows in order to prevent the spread of any germs.

Refillable cups can be made of stainless steel, porcelaine, glass or plastic. Reusable cups made from so-called natural materials like bamboo consist mainly of synthetic materials such as melamine resin. "Natural" materials are then added to these plastics as fillers. If products made of melamine resin are used at temperatures of up to 70° C, which is usually the case when filling with hot drinks, there are no reservations from a health point of view. Instructions for use of the products should be observed.



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