Outrageous! 6,000 chemicals now being used in food packaging and processing


It seems that everyone is concerned about what is in our food, but this week, we’ve become interested in our foods’ multifarious packaging materials—and that includes the packaging and containers you may never see as foods are processed from bulk down into the consumable portions we buy in the supermarket.

Marion Nestle recently highlighted a study that analyzed lists of the over 6000 chemicals that are used in food processing and packaging, known as food contact materials (FCM). The researchers found that 175 of the FCMs are “chemicals of concern” (COC)  and that 54 of these COCs are given the designation “candidates for Substances of Very High Concern.” The study concludes:

From a consumer perspective, it is certainly unexpected and undesirable to find COCs being intentionally used in FCMs, and thus it seems appropriate to replace substances case by case with inherently safer alternatives.”

In other words: take these dangerous chemicals out of our food supply!!

Luckily, headway is being made on some of these items, namely BPA. The dangers of BPA are many and multiplying, but efforts to eliminate this endocrine disruptor are showing promise with a recent Congressional introduction of a law—the cleverly named Ban Poisonous Additives (BPA) act— that would effectively ban BPA. The Breast Cancer Fund put together this fantastic Storify showcasing key pieces of social media and news links to give you the whole story. In short:

If passed, the bill will empower the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove BPA from food packaging, label food packaging that still contains BPA while alternatives are developed, encourage manufacturers to replace this hazardous chemical with alternatives that are safer for workers and consumers, and require the agency to review the safety of all food contact substances.”

This is exciting, but we are not out of the (plastic) woods yet. It will be important that we all speak up to make sure that this bill gets Congressional support to pass. Head over to Take Part’s petition page to sign on, and considering writing or calling your Senators and Representives.

Photo:Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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