On February 19, 2014 the commentary article “Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge?” was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The article cautions about harmful long term consequences for human health as a result of the constant exposure to synthetic chemicals leaching from food contact materials. The commentary article’s authors are associated with the Food Packaging Forum in Zurich, Switzerland. They state that even though many chemicals may be regulated, little is known about their long term effects, especially concerning implications on early stages of human development. Hence, the authors argue that people consuming processed and packaged foodstuffs are chronically exposed during a lifetime, which is “a cause for concern for several reasons”, especially for exposures occurring during fetal development. The authors admit that establishing potential causalities between long term exposure and its effects is not an easy task, due to the lack of unexposed populations for reference, the variability of exposure in the general population and the unknown influence of further environmental pollutants.
The authors emphasize that known toxicants like the carcinogenic formaldehyde and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), namely bisphenol A (BPA), tributyltin, triclosan, and phthalates, are legally used in kitchen ware and food contact materials (FCMs). What is more, the number of chemicals intentionally used in FCMs exceeds 4 000, and is increased by an unknown number of unintentionally added substances (NIAS) stemming from impurities, chemical breakdown and reaction byproducts. Concluding, the authors declare that “it is of utmost importance that gaps in knowledge are reliably and rapidly filled” in order prevent adserve consequences for public health.
Muncke, J. et al. (published online February 19, 2014) “Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge?” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. (Abstract)
Muncke, J. et al. “Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge?” (pdf full text)