Scientists warn over chemicals in food packaging

19 February 2014 (Last Updated February 19th, 2014 18:30)

In a paper published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, environmental scientists have warned that the use of synthetic chemicals in the processing, packaging and storing of food products may lead to long-term health damage for consumers.

In a paper published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, environmental scientists have warned that the use of synthetic chemicals in the processing, packaging and storing of food products may lead to long-term health damage for consumers.

According to the scientists, small amounts of synthetic chemicals can leach into food or drink bottles, resulting in health issues.

The scientists noted that some chemicals which are regulated for health and safety concerns are still widely used in food packaging. One of the chemicals is formaldehyde, which causes cancer.

Eating packaged or processed food items that had been exposed to these chemicals during early childhood would result in a long-term impact on human development.

Other chemicals used in food and drink packaging can interrupt hormone production. These include bisphenol A, tributyltin, triclosan, and phthalates.

Can coatings, the laminate on beverage cartons and the caps and closures on glass jars contain these chemicals which then migrate into the food according to the scientists, who include Jane Muncke from the Food Packaging Forum Foundation in Zurich.

They have called for chemical regulatory procedures to put in place so that the cellular changes in humans caused by food packaging can be reduced. This can be considered in routine toxicology analysis.

According to the scientists, a population-based assessment and bio monitoring are urgently needed to find out any links between food-contact chemicals and chronic conditions including cancer, obesity, diabetes, and neurological and inflammatory disorders.

It would not be possible to conduct a study comparing people who have been exposed to chemicals used in food packaging with people who have not.