Low exposure of chemicals in food packaging over the long term may pose health concerns

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 by: J. Anderson
Tags: packaged food, phthalates, BPA

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(NaturalNews) One aspect of continually eating foods packaged in plastics and other materials may be the prolonged low exposure of chemicals and other substances. A recent commentary published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health indicated that the substances in the packaging of many processed foods can leach into the actual food itself, posing many health concerns.

Common packaging chemicals

For example, the cancer causing substance formaldehyde is legally used in food packaging and is commonly used in low levels in many plastic bottles. Other chemicals that have been found to decrease or disrupt the production of hormones such as triclosan, phthalates, bisphenol A, and tributyltin can also be found in food packaging. It is even known that there are over 4,000 chemical substances that are used in food packaging but the effects of long term low exposure is mostly unknown.

One chemical that has been highly studied is bisphenol-A (BPA), which is commonly used in the production of plastic food packaging. BPA has been linked to many health issues like cancer, heart complications and fertility issues. This endocrine disruptor is found in canned food linings, plastic containers, and water bottles with almost the entire population being exposed to it. A 2004 study illustrated that 93 percent of over 2,000 urine samples contained BPA. Another example is phthalates (another chemical found in food packaging) which has been linked to childhood obesity. This chemical is not only found in food packaging plastics but also in soaps, lotions, and cosmetics.

While the actual policy and science behind these chemicals are continuing to be discussed and debated, people are still being regularly exposed. The lack of scientific studies about the long-term population effects of these chemicals, especially when the exposure is at such a low level, makes regulating them difficult. Likewise, the fact that there isn't an unexposed similar population left to compare the study results with makes the research difficult.


The authors of the commentary note that there is a need for these population wide assessments on the issue to see if long term low exposure can be linked to cancers, diabetes, obesity, or even environmental pollution. The authors urge for the continual study of this issue, "Since most foods are packaged, and the entire population is likely to be exposed, it is of utmost importance that gaps in knowledge are reliably and rapidly filled." The commentary helps bring the debate about policy regulation of these harmful food packaging chemicals back to the attention of the public.

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