Food packaging identified as primary source of aquatic litter

Nature Sustainability publishes research integrating litter inventories from seven aquatic environments around the globe; finds food packaging makes up the largest share of litter in all aquatic environments (50-88%), except the open ocean; of 112 litter types, 10 make up 75% of litter; top 4 items come from food packaging (44% of total): plastic bags, plastic bottles, food containers, cutlery, and wrappers

Study finds PFAS in 100% of sampled breastmilk

Environmental Science and Technology publishes study in which 100% of milk samples from breast-feeding mothers contained at least one of 39 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); Phased-out PFOS and PFOA were most abundant compounds but currently used short-chain PFAS such as PFHpA and PFHpA detected in majority of samples and becoming more common; The Guardian reports chemical companies hid risks about short-chain PFAS in food packaging

Nature Food study finds gaps in food system plastics research

Systematic scoping review assesses the research literature covering plastic’s effects on human health, the environment, and food security/economics through the entire food system from 2000 through 2018; includes over 3,300 studies; found majority of previous research focused on food security/economics; identified gaps related to studies on the effect of plastics on human health, meta-analyses, and research within low-income nations

Study: migration into dry foods higher than US FDA assumption

Comprehensive literature review in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants investigates substance migration into dry foods and food simulants; review analyses: foods off store shelves, foods and food simulants in experimental settings, food particle characteristics, and packaging material; finds migration commonly exceeds 50 µg/kg assumed migration rate of dry foods according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Wendy’s to phase out PFAS by end of 2021

Fast food chain Wendy’s will eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in consumer-facing packaging in the US and Canada by the end of 2021, establish restricted substances list (RSL); faster phase-out timeline than competitor McDonald’s; public health advocates applaud fast-paced commitment, call on Burger King to take similar action

Survey gauges consumers’ interest in recyclable packaging

Boston Consulting Group survey interviews 15,000 consumers across Europe, North America, South America; finds consumer environmental awareness and preference for recyclable packaging unaffected by pandemic, young consumers willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, miseducation exists about real recycling rates

Thailand proposes draft regulation for paper FCMs

Thailand publishes draft regulation for chemicals in paper food contact materials (FCMs), affects non-colored paper and board containers; limits concentrations of heavy metals, phthalates, bisphenol A and benzophenone; draft open for consultation until May 11, 2021

Californian District Court holds acrylamide lawsuits

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California grants preliminary injunction halting new lawsuits to enforce the Proposition 65 warning requirement for acrylamide in food and beverages; Californian Chamber of Commerce claims no scientific consensus, argues labels misleading consumers, unconstitutionally forcing speech; only applies to new acrylamide lawsuits; motion for summary judgment denied

UNWRAPPED Project releases FCM factsheets

Zero Waste Europe announces publication of nine factsheets as part of the UNWRAPPED Project; developed to help communicate human health risks associated with chemicals in food packaging; experts call for industry and policymakers to limit single-use packaging, take precautionary approach towards hazardous chemicals in food packaging

Tackling the toxics in plastics packaging

Article in PLOS Biology discusses hazardous chemicals in plastics; highlights chemicals as critical but often missing aspect in plastic pollution discussion; proposes rethinking current approach to plastic packaging toxicity testing