In a press release published on February 20, 2014 by the trade association American Chemistry Council (ACC), Kathryn St. John, spokesperson of the ACC, calls the commentary published online on February 19, 2014 in the peer-reviewed scientific Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health is a ‘disservice to the public’. According to the press release, all plastic food contact materials are reviewed for safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before marketing. Further, it is argued that formaldehyde is a naturally occurring substance present in foods including pears and apples, and exposure to formaldehyde via food contact materials is secondary to other environmental exposures. In their press release, St. John states that the ACC will continue to support research into the safety of food contact chemicals.
In the JECH commentary, the authors, including Jane Muncke from the Food Packaging Forum, demanded more epidemiological research into food contact materials to ensure public health safety (previously reported on by the FPF). The authors identified formaldehyde as a carcinogen (also see U.S. National Toxicology Program, 12th Report on Carcinogens). While FCM substances may be reviewed by the FDA, non-carcinogenic substances migrating below 0.5 ppb or generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by at least one peer-reviewed publication do not require review by the FDA (Neltner et al. 2013).
ACC (February 19, 2014). “Commentary on Food Packaging Materials Strings Together Series of Scary, Unfounded Claims.”
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.
Neltner, T. et al (2013). “Data gaps in toxicity testing of chemicals allowed in food in the United States.” Reproductive Toxicology 42, 85–94.