In an article published on March 2, 2015 in The Times, journalist Joanna Blythman discusses consumer exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in food packaging and questions how use of such chemicals is legally controlled. Blythman suggests that even consumers eating fresh and minimally processed foods are exposed to many chemicals from food packaging. For instance, fresh meat that is available in supermarkets is displayed on plastic trays. Blythman stresses that the range of food contact materials (FCMs) food manufacturers can choose from is wide and new innovative concepts keep coming on to the market. For example, a lubricant originally aimed at coating car windshields, is now used on the surface of plastic containers to allow ketchup or other products to slide right out. Blythman expresses her concerns about a substantial number of chemicals with hazardous properties legally used in FCMs. Food manufactures assume that potentially toxic chemicals have no harmful effects, provided the concentration is low enough, she stresses. Researchers, however, suspect that some chemicals have health effects at low doses e.g., bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) or several phthalates. In conclusion, Blythman encourages consumers to reduce their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in FCMs by minimizing the consumption of packaged, processed food and drink.

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) reacted to the article by saying that plastic materials used in FCMs are subject to EU as well as national regulations that are continuously being updated. According to the BPF, safety of BPA and phthalates has been thoroughly assessed by both EU and international authorities. Furthermore, efficient plastic packaging we have today significantly reduces the risk of food poisoning and thus benefits public health.

Read more

Joanna Blythman (March 2, 2015). “What toxic packaging does to healthy food.The Times

BPF (March 3, 2015). “BPF takes ‘Times’ author to task on plastics packaging.

Jenny Eagle (March 4, 2015). “BPF blasts ‘misleading’ report that claims ‘packaging chemicals are not controlled.Food Production Daily