It’s Official! Toxic Chemicals Can Contaminate Food Through Packaging | Valdamark Packaging

It’s confirmed toxic chemicals can contaminate food stuffs through packaging materials.

Toxic

Nearly 30 years after a groundbreaking report the proof is now undeniable.

It has been confirmed Toxic Chemicals can enter food through packaging nearly 30 years after groundbreaking report!

During the late 1980’s the Council of Northeast Governors turned their attention towards heavy metals in packaging. The thinking was that they would be able to accumulate over time through continuous re usage of recycled materials. Eventually these toxic metals would reach harmful levels.

Guideline legislation was drafted by the council that prohibited any addition of harmful materials including lead and mercury. This covered any component of the packaging design as well as including inks on printed elements. The legislation detailed limits on the usage of any heavy metal to 100 parts per million.

Compliance was ensured through packaging manufacturers having to provide certificates to their clients and end users. This also had to reported annually to the respected state.

CONEG also set up the toxic’s in packaging clearinghouse in order to simulate best practice and appropriate legislation. It also coordinated legislation at a state level and served as a valuable resource for companies looking to ensure compliance.

The council goal as outlines in its hypothesis to protect virgin materials from contamination whilst improving recycling rates and protecting public health.

Throughout the years over 19 states have adopted some degree of the guideline legislation. In 2018 Washington State took the unprecedented move to expand the current legislation to cover not only heavy metals but packaging for chemicals and anything that contains per and poly fluoridated alkyl. A substance that has been linked with a variety of health problems including endocrine disruption in children.

The state was also concerned that paper, corrugated & foil packaging material treated with these substances could also pose a potential risk.

As well as heavy metals there have also been many other warning for chemicals contained in food packaging. Some relatively harmless in small doses. Others present a sizeable risk. These are found not only in food packaging but also food handling and heat sealer equipment as well.

Here are some of the main culprits –

Ortho-Phthalates – Used mainly in plastic and inks. Studies have demonstrated these chemicals are associated with endocrine development problems. The FDA is currently reviewing their safety.

  • Perchlorate – This is an agent used in anti static packaging and food handling equipment. The chemical has been linked to thyroid problems as well as brain development issues in young children.
  • Per & Poly fluorinated alkyl substances – These are often used as a grease proofing agent in VCI anti corrosion bags and some paper products. Again this is attributed to a vast range of health problems including endocrine disruption and issues with children's development.

Tighter Regulatory Measures

In the coming years, chemicals frequently used in packaging will be subject to much tighter regulatory measures by both the European Union and the US.

Bisphenol A (BPA). In relation to this, Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are two examples of popular yet potentially harmful chemicals that will require increasingly strict restrictions.

You can find these substances in many of our everyday products, ranging from plastic containers and aluminum cans to reinforced paper products like drinking boxes or coffee cups. As such, their use must be better managed on a global scale.

Recently, McKinsey has identified several key strategies for companies looking to address tightening regulations of chemical usage in packaging. These strategies are investing in technology development, engaging in supply chain collaboration, and utilising clear internal and external communication.

Companies should embrace these strategies sooner if they want to stay ahead of the regulations curve. They can proactively prevent the unsustainable use of hazardous substances in the packaging industry today. The environmental benefits of doing so will undoubtedly reign in once these regulations start being enforced more actively around the world.

Re-evaluating BPA
Recently, experts have suggested a need to re-evaluate Bisphenol A (BPA). This is especially true in food containers and bottle tops, as research indicates that traces of the chemical may migrate into food and beverages.

As a result, health concerns have arisen. Some claim that BPA is potentially hazardous and may cause endocrine disruption. Other experts link BPA to higher levels of blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

As these potential risks become more apparent, manufacturers have started researching alternatives to BPA in their products. Furthermore, governments around the world are considering legislation to regulate or even eliminate BPA from consumer-facing materials.

Ultimately, consumers must know the latest updates on BPA evaluations so they can make educated decisions about the products they buy. It's clear that re-evaluating our use of BPA is vital for ensuring public safety.

Factoring in Forever Chemicals
The presence of PFAS in our environment is a growing concern as they are found in water, soil and even the animals we consume. Due to their “forever” nature, it is not easy to reduce their buildup.

Manufacturers must consider challenging the use of these chemical compounds for packaging applications and work towards finding alternatives instead. In addition, changing one’s behaviour can make a difference. Reducing single-use plastics, eating organic food whenever possible and avoiding non-stick cookware can all contribute to lowering our risk of exposure to PFAS.

As stewards of this planet, it is imperative that we take responsibility for the contamination caused by these forever chemicals. We should strive to move away from their use in favor of safer alternatives. Doing so will help protect not only our health but also ensure a better future for generations to come. With continued effort, it is possible to reduce the damage caused by these persistent contaminants in order to preserve a healthy living environment for us all.

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