A total of 175 chemicals known to be harmful for health are used in food packaging on both sides of the Atlantic, in the European Union countries and the United States, according to a study published by a Swiss non-governmental organization.
As the study authors point out, the use of many of these substances, which are linked to cancer, hormonal disorders or infertility in other products has already been limited or is to be prohibited. However, these regulations do not concern food packaging due to gaps in legislation.
Researchers of the Food Packaging Forum, a non-governmental organization in Switzerland, compared two lists of hazardous chemicals – the so-called ‘Substitute it now!‘ list, also known as Sin, and the TEDX list of endocrine disruptors – with three official lists of substances allowed to be used in the manufacture of food packaging, in particular, the ESCO Working Group list of non-plastic food contact substances by European Food Safety Authority, Annex I of EC 10/2011 which includes the allowed plastic food contact substances and the so-called Pew list of food additives authorized in the United States.
As noted, about 175 chemicals contained in the Sin and the TEDX lists (such as phthalates, organotins and benzophenones) were identified in at least one, or even in all of the official lists of substances allowed to be used for food packaging.
The majority of these chemicals meet, as stated, the criteria set by the European regulation concerning the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals (REACH) to be qualified as “Substances of Very High Concern” (SVHC). 21 of them have even been officially recognized as substances of very high concern by the European Chemicals Agency, while six are to be gradually restricted by EU under REACH.
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