In a blog post published on April 6, 2017 by the U.S. non-profit organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), chemicals policy director Tom Neltner provides an overview of hazardous chemicals present in food or food packaging. In the U.S. “approximately 10,000 food additives are allowed” to be used to “flavor, color, preserve, package, process, and store our food,” Neltner explains. Certain additives are linked to health concerns such as “reproductive problems, developmental issues, and even cancer,” he further informs. Examples include perchlorate, an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) that can interfere with brain development (FPF reported), which is added as an anti-static agent to dry foods packaging (FPF reported). Another example is bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7), an EDC that is recognized as a reproductive toxicant (FPF reported) and also associated with other health issues. BPA is used for example in the coating of food and beverage cans (FPF reported), or in polycarbonate plastics.
Neltner illustrates how the “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) rule exempts ingredients from formal review and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Due to the rule, “FDA has never reviewed an estimated 1,000 GRAS substances for safety,” he reports. For the U.S. food regulatory system to ensure food safety, Neltner recommends the following: 1) Companies should not be allowed to determine the safety of their ingredients without review by the FDA and public knowledge, 2) the FDA must require industry to use modern scientific methods to assess food safety, and 3) the FDA needs to reassess the safety of thousands of chemicals that were approved “decades ago, when we had far less understanding about their impacts on human health.”
Tom Neltner (April 6, 2017). “The hidden – and potentially dangerous – chemicals in your diet.” EDF Health