In an article published on April 25, 2018 by the U.S. non-profit organization Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF), Nika Beauchamp informed about a new report looking into the use of phthalates in dairy farm equipment. The report was prepared by consultancy Pure Strategies for the non-profit organizations Environmental Health Strategy Center and The Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging.
Pure Strategies tested milk hoses, teat cup liners/inflations, gaskets/o-rings in milking equipment and connections, teat dip cups and other equipment for cleaning/disinfectant solutions, and silage wrap for phthalates. In addition, the consultancy collected information from dairy-supply companies and interviewed dairy experts on the extent of continued phthalate use in diary farming. The report found that some plastic and rubber farm equipment used to milk cows still contains phthalates, among them diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7). The report also shows that alternatives to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or rubber equipment plasticized with phthalates is available on the market for dairy farming. The aim of the investigation was “to understand the sources of phthalates at dairies and to develop strategies to eliminate those sources.” A study by The Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging published in July 2017 found all but one of 30 tested cheese products contained phthalates (FPF reported). Subsequently, the coalition launched a campaign urging U.S. cheese manufacturer Kraft Heinz Company to find and eliminate the sources of phthalates in their products (FPF reported).
Phthalates are commonly used as plasticizers in PVC, but can also migrate from non-PVC food contact articles (FCAs). DEHP, as well as diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP, CAS 84-69-5), dibutyl phthalate (DBP, CAS 84-74-2), and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP, CAS 85-68-7), have been identified as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) with effects on human health and are thus classified as substances of very high concern (SVHCs) under the European Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) (FPF reported). The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is currently reassessing the safety of DBP, BBP, and DEHP for use in food contact plastics (FPF reported). In the U.S., 30 ortho-phthalates are approved for food contact uses and a petition to revoke this approval is currently pending (FPF reported).
Nika Beauchamp (April 25, 2018). “Cows won’t like this, and neither will you: New report finds farm equipment may be source of toxic chemicals in food.” SCHF
Jim Cornall (April 30, 2018). “Some farm equipment may be a source of toxic chemicals in dairy, study finds.” Dairy Reporter
Pure Strategies (March 20, 2018). “Sources of phthalates in dairy farm equipment.” Prepared for Environmental Health Strategy Center and The Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging (pdf)