On November 30, 2020, a team of researchers led by the Food Packaging Forum (FPF) published a scientific article in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International providing an overview of intentionally used food contact chemicals and their hazards. The study is based on a new Food Contact Chemicals database (FCCdb) also developed by FPF that compiles information from over 50 governmental and industry sources. It identifies 12,285 distinct food contact chemicals (FCCs) that are potentially used in the manufacture of food contact materials and articles. 71% of these substances have been found to have publicly available toxicity data, while the remainder (29%) lack openly accessible toxicity data. Following a review of all substances, 608 FCCs were identified as the most hazardous and therefore high-priority candidates for substitution in food contact material (FCM) manufacturing.

“This database is a much-needed, freely available resource describing the universe of food contact chemicals,” says Jane Muncke, managing director of the Food Packaging Forum and co-author of the study. “Chemical exposure from food contact articles like packaging must be systematically addressed, and any hazardous substances removed – and not replaced with other, less well-studied chemicals that turn out to be regrettable substitutions, like BPS that replaced BPA. Getting the toxics out is essential as society moves toward a circular economy and increases the use of recycled or alternative materials. This database enables stakeholders to tackle this task in a systematic way.”

The database and accompanying journal article are the latest outcomes from the ongoing Food Contact Chemicals and Human Health (FCCH) Project led by FPF. In March 2020, the project spearheaded the publication of a consensus statement by a group of 33 international scientists urging decision-makers in government, industry, and civil society to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals that are present in food packaging and any other food contact materials (FPF reported). More information about the database including a guide on how to use it is available on the dedicated resource page.


Groh, K et al. (2020) “Overview of intentionally used food contact chemicals and their hazards.” Environment International, doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.106225 (published November 30, 2020).

Groh, K et al. (2020) “FCCdb: Food Contact Chemicals database.” Zenodo, doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3240108

Read More

KH (January 13, 2021). “Food-Contact Chemicals Database Implications Questioned.”

CHEM Trust (December 4, 2020). “Food packaging forum launches new chemicals database.

Health and Environment Alliance (November 30, 2020). “More than 12,200 chemicals can be used in materials and articles coming in contact with food worldwide, according to new scientific database.”

Kathryn Carlson (December 12, 2020). “FCM database highlights hundreds of hazardous chemicals for substitution.Chemical Watch