University researchers from Korea published a scientific article in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, addressing the human risk assessment of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that migrate from food contact materials (FCMs) into food (Bang et al. 2012). In their article, Bang and co-workers assessed the risk of bisphenol A, phthalates and styrene using data on food levels of these substances, and applying conventional risk assessment methodology (assuming a safe threshold for the substances). The scientists conclude that bisphenol A (BPA) and styrene from FCM pose no health concern to consumers, based on the existing data. Further, they mention that “synthetic resins used for the manufacture of plastic food containers are mostly non-EDC ingredients, and should be considered safe.” In the authors’ view, the plastics polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are “non-EDC-related ingredients and are generally considered safe.”

This study has now been the topic of a Letter to the Editor of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety (Muncke, Wagner and Makris 2013). The letter’s authors disagree with the articles’ conclusions, as they fail to include recent scientific understanding that questions traditional risk assessment approaches. They also state that “knowledge gaps about the presence and leaching of EDCs from FCM exist”. Further, they point out that “evaluating FCM safety with sufficient certainty” is hindered by these knowledge gaps. In the absence of appropriate data for conducting FCM safety assessments the authors call for more coordinated and dedicated research efforts. Such efforts should address the presence of EDCs in FCMs, the suitability of current testing requirements for substances used in FCMs, mixture effects for migration from FCMs, and non-intentionally added substances present in plastic FCMs.


Bang, D. Y., et al. (2012). “Human Risk Assessment of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Derived from Plastic Food Containers.” Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety 11(5): 453-470.

Muncke, J., Wagner, M., and Makris, K. (2013). Letter to the Editor and Response Jan 2013. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety 12(1): 1-4.