On January 19, 2021, the non-governmental organization International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) reported on testing by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI) that found approximately 80% of tested paper and cardboard-based food packing items to contain the endocrine-disrupting chemical bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP; CAS 117-81-7).

KEMI tested over 60 different paper and cardboard-based items, including pizza boxes, hamburger wrappers, cornflakes boxes, and various kinds of beverage containers and cups for kids, of which 48 contained detectable amounts of DEHP.

DEHP is well-known for its negative effects on human health, including neurodevelopment (FPF reported). In addition to DEHP, the agency also detected dibutyl phthalate (DBP; CAS 84-74-2) and bisphenol A (BPA; CAS 80-05-7) as well as other chemicals.

All three compounds, DEHP, DBP, and BPA, are included on the EU’s REACH Authorization List which prohibits their use in products such as toys and childcare articles. Yet, the same chemicals are still allowed in cornflake boxes and other food packaging materials under separate legislation for food contact materials (FCMs). At the moment, the EU’s FCM legislation is being reviewed to address these and other problems in the current regulatory framework (FPF reported).

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ChemSec (January 19, 2021)Testing finds that 8 out of 10 packaging materials for food contain highly toxic chemicals.”