A scientific study by the Food Packaging Forum has identified 175 potentially hazardous chemical substances in food packaging in Europe and the US.
Many of the substances have been classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic. Their use is completely legal under European rules, but manufacturers are asked to voluntarily avoid using them in food packaging.
Chemicals also identified in the study include phthalates that are used as plasticisers, as well as benzophenones and organotin compounds. Other endocrine disruptors are considered to interfere with the hormone system and a third group of chemicals is considered persistent and bioaccumulative.
Substances were identified by comparing two inventories of hazardous chemicals, the Substitute it Now! list and the TEDX list of endocrine disruptors.
Entitled 'Food contact substances and chemicals of concern: A comparison of inventories', the study has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Food Additives and Contaminants.
Food Packaging Forum managing director Dr Jane Muncke said: "Chemicals with highly toxic properties may legally be used in the production of food contact materials, but not in other consumer products such as computers, textiles and paints even though exposure through food contact materials may be far more relevant."
Image: Use of hazardous chemicals in food packaging is completely legal under European rules. Photo: courtesy of artur84/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.