Journal of Hazardous Materials surveys for food packaging

It says chemicals used in food packaging can affect human health

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A survey says that chemicals used in food packaging can affect human health and the ecosystem. Photo credit: logan jeffrey on Unsplash
A survey says that chemicals used in food packaging can affect human health and the ecosystem. Photo credit: logan jeffrey on Unsplash

Food Packaging Forum has come up with a list of 388 toxic chemicals used in food contact materials, some of which are carcinogenic. This should be a priority for the EU’s chemical strategy teams to do away with them. This new discussion about phasing out such harmful chemicals concerns recent talks between scientists from the forum with the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology and ETH Zurich.

Journal of Hazardous Materials published a survey which is prepared to study the chemicals present in the food packaging that humans can consume and pose a threat to their health and the whole ecosystem. According to the researchers, more than 12000 known chemicals are used in manufacturing food contact materials. Many are being used non-intentionally, like some additives to clearing agents, and some reactions of these chemical products are yet to be known.

Few harmful chemicals have been identified and targeted by the law, including Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) that have been classified as non-essential use in the EU. There have been further restrictions on the use of PFAS as they are known to cause high cholesterol and certain cancers.

About the chemicals in food packaging

According to Dr Jonatan Kleimark, a senior chemical and business advisor at Swedish NGO ChemSec, although the strong chemicals of PFAS limit the degradation of food, and are good wetting agents in the packing, continued adverse effects of these chemicals on the environment and public health should be considered while using them.

Currently, the food contact chemicals of concern (FCCoC) focus is less due to the recent introduction of the chemical strategy for stability. The new study includes data from several resources like the food contact chemicals database based on information about firms like the European Chemicals Agency and the US Environmental Protection Agency. More data from the organizations like Economic Cooperation and Development is being considered.

According to the food packaging forum study, there are 388 harmful chemicals in food contact substances. It also includes 352 substances known as cariogenic, mutagenic, and risky for reproduction. They can cause cancer, change the DNA, and be hazardous to the human reproductive systems resulting in congenital disabilities.

More information on materials used in food packaging

A study says few contact materials showed a higher presence of toxic chemicals. Many harmful food contact chemicals were seen in the printing inks, with more than 238 substances. Plastics, paper, and board were also a part of harmful food contact materials, with the study stating that these could have around 160 toxic substances.

It was found that many food contact chemicals of concern were used in several food contact materials. The research also recognized 96 FCCoCs that were used to manufacture different types of food contact substances.

The food packaging forum states that the priority of the FCCoCs identified in the study will let the manufacturers and researchers improve the safety of food contact materials. The people involved in the research state that its list of FCCoC should not be allowed to be used in the food contact materials. Hence this group requests the European Commission to consider the list during changes made to food contact materials regulations.

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