On May 7, 2018, the Swiss broadcasting company Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) aired a report on chemicals of concern (COCs) in food packaging on the Swiss market in its weekly health program “Puls.” The report, entitled “Verpackungen – Schutz und Gift für Lebensmittel,” informed about an enforcement campaign by the Swiss Association of Cantonal Chemists (ACCS) finding elevated levels of photoinitiators, plasticizers, chlorinated substances, mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH), and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) in paper and board food packaging (FPF reported).

Jane Muncke, managing director of the Food Packaging Forum (FPF), and Philippe Dubois, president of the Swiss Packaging Institute (SVI), were interviewed for comments on the test results. Jane Muncke highlighted that the detected chloropropanols are carcinogenic and there is also evidence from animal studies that some of the MOSH might have carcinogenic potential. As a rule of thumb, such chemicals transfer at increased rate and levels from paperboard packaging into foods that are fatty and/or warm, she explained. Philippe Dubois was not surprised by the test results as the issue of COCs in food packaging has been known for years. He noted that nowadays the cantonal laboratories have improved analytical possibilities to detect many more COCs at lower levels as compared to ten years ago. He further stated that retailers increasingly purchase packaging in other countries, due to economic competition, which makes control very difficult.

The study’s lead scientist, Pius Kölbener, stressed that further enforcement campaigns are planned in the future to ensure compliance with Swiss legislation.

The report is in German and can be watched on demand on the SRF website (within Switzerland).

Read more

SRF (May 7, 2018). “Verpackungen – Schutz und Gift für Lebensmittel.” In «Puls» vom 7.5.2018 (in German)

Amanda Arroyo (May 7, 2018). “Schützend und schädlich zugleich.SRF (in German)