Warning over 175 dangerous chemicals found in food packaging: Substances are linked to cancer, fertility and birth defects
Some food packaging contains hazardous chemicals linked to cancer and fertility, a new study has warned.
More than 170 dangerous chemicals are legally used in the production of food packaging, scientists have found.
They warned the toxic substances, which were found to cause cancer and inflict changes on genes, could end up in the food they contain.
But the Food Standards Agency moved to reassure consumers, explaining all food packaging falls within European standards and the presence of the chemicals are of no concern if they are used within the ‘limits or restrictions’ set for their use.
The study, published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants, discovered around 175 chemicals with varying affects.
They found the substances interfered with sperm production, caused genital malformations and disrupted hormone production in the body.
Doctor Jane Muncke, managing director of the Food Packaging Forum, which conducted the study, said:
‘From a consumer perspective, it is certainly undesirable and also unexpected to find chemicals of concern being intentionally used in food contact materials.’
The list of chemicals found in the packaging, includes those that accumulate in the environment and the human body.
Phthalates, which are widely used as plasticisers, are one example of substances which can cause male fertility and cancer.
Benzophenones and organotin compounds, found in printing inks and the coatings of food wrappings, were also found.
Researchers found some foil, cans, pans and storage containers released substances into food at low levels, to be ingested be people on a daily basis.
Dr Muncke said the majority of the chemicals of concern identified in the study fulfill the criteria of ‘Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)’, set by REACH – the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals.
Under European rules, chemicals that come under this criteria have to be registered and authorised for use, but the guidelines do not cover food packaging.
Dr Muncke told the Daily Express: ‘REACH currently covers consumer products such as toys, but food is different.
‘We are saying why don’t we bring it together so that we can have a regulation where chemicals used in food packaging would need similar notification before usage.’
She added: ‘As a consequence, chemicals with highly toxic properties may legally be used in the production of food contact materials, but not in other consumer products such as computers, textiles and paints even though exposure through food contact materials may be far more relevant.’
The report states: ‘Food contact materials (FCMs) are one possible source of food contaminationm because chemicals may migrate from the material into the food.
‘More than 6,000 FCM substances appear on regulatory or non-regulatory lists, some of these substances have been linked to chronic diseases.’