In an article published October 13, 2014 by the magazine Ensia, contributor Elizabeth Grossman criticizes the lack of information on substances used in food contact materials (FCMs). Grossman reports that in the U.S. the distinction between food additives and indirect food additives exempts FCMs from the ingredient labeling requirements. She further expresses concern over the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exempts FCM substances migrating below the threshold of concern and that while the agency may ask questions regarding FCM substances, it does not carry out its own analyses. Chemical breakdown and by-products are yet another problem in establishing FCM safety. The scientific evidence on cumulative exposures, chronic and low dose effects questions whether chemical risk assessment focused on acute effects is sufficient in ensuring FCMs’ safety. Finally, some substances that are already being phased out but are not banned in the U.S. and Europe are increasingly used in FCMs in China and being exported. Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates are only the tip of the iceberg, according to attorney Tom Neltner, main author of a 2013 study showing that many food additives authorized in the U.S. lacked toxicological data. Grossman concludes that in the absence of labeling requirements and accessible safety information, consumers will remain ignorant regarding the safety of FCMs.

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Elizabeth Grossman (October 13, 2014). “When it comes to food packaging what we don’t know could hurt us.” Ensia.