The second morning session at the 6th Food Packaging Forum workshop, which took place on October 4, 2018, in Zurich, Switzerland, focused on new developments in science to improve the safe use of chemicals.

The presentation by Bruce Blumberg, Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology at the University of California, U.S., addressed how predictive toxicology can be used to screen and prioritize chemicals for further assessment. The success of predictive toxicology depends on the availability of appropriate assays that must be grounded in biology, Blumberg stated in the beginning of his talk. He then summarized the approach of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to assess and prioritize chemicals by using the rapid automated chemical screening tools within the ToxCast and Tox21 programs. Blumberg and his colleagues compared the prediction of adipogenic activity by ToxCast tools with the results they obtained by different test assays for PPARy activity and adipogenic action (FPF reported). Out of 16 chemicals identified as active by ToxCast, they were able to confirm the activity of only five substances. In the concluding remarks, Blumberg acknowledged the achievements of the ToxCast screening system, but also called for improvements of the assays to maximize the reliability of this testing approach (talk Blumberg).

Olivier Vitrac, Senior Researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, informed how new computational methodologies for predicting migration can support the development of safer food contact articles. Vitrac gave an overview of how migration modeling was introduced in the European Food Contact Material (FCM) regulation and how it became an accepted tool in risk assessment, compliance testing, and risk management. Migration modeling is currently used not only for monolayers, but also for materials with diffusion barriers and multilayers, Vitrac explained. He also showed how modeling helps to identify whether set-off migration from stackable cups contributes to the final contamination of food (talk Vitrac).

In the last presentation of the morning session, Terrence C. Collins, Professor of Green Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, U.S., identified the carbonized economy, nuclear misadventure or mishap, and low-dose adverse effects of chemicals as existential threats from chemical technologies. Collins then focused on the consequences of low-dose adverse effects and identified the reduced sperm counts in humans as one alarming observation that needs to be addressed. As a solution, chemical technologies should not only focus on technical and cost performance, but also on health, environmental, and fairness performance to achieve sustainable chemistry. Therefore, Collins called for improved testing of low-dose adverse effects, including the use of in vivo developmental assay to cover “the really serious issues.” He also requested better remediation technologies and urged that the academic chemistry science needs to become multidisciplinary. In the second part of his talk, Collins gave an overview of the decades of development and evolution of the tetra-amido macrocyclic ligand (TAML) catalysts that are highly efficient in degrading many organic micropollutants in water (FPF reported) (talk Collins).

Read more

Bruce Bloomberg (October 4, 2018). “Does predictive toxicology live up to its promise?” (pdf; Youtube)

Olivier Vitrac (October 4, 2018). “New computational methodologies as enablers of safer food contact articles.” (pdf; Youtube)

Terrence J. Collins (October 4, 2018). “Reality check: Can chemistry become sustainable?” (m4v; Youtube)


Janesick, A.S., et al. (2016). «On the utility of ToxCast™ and ToxPi as methods for identifying new obesogens.Environmental Health Perspectives 124(8): 1214-26.

Onundi, Y. et al. (2017). “A multidisciplinary investigation of the technical and environmental performances of TAML/peroxide elimination of bisphenol A compounds from water: Destruction, oligomerisation, mechanism, end product toxicity, and applications.” Green Chemistry 19: 4234-4262.