Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Are Chemicals in Food Packaging a Health Risk?

By Australian Science Media Centre

Synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, storage and processing of foods might be harmful to human health because most of these substances are not inert and can leach into the foods we eat.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

While the topic of this paper is relatively interesting the title is needlessly alarmist, especially as the authors don’t present any actual data (either their own or from other studies) to back up their statements... There are a lot of possibilities and maybes in this article and while there may be a case for more research into some of the chemicals mentioned, particularly the endocrine disruptors, this article does not make it very well.

The overwhelming weight of scientific opinion (including that from Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) is that there is no health or safety issue from these chemicals at the levels people are exposed to. More research is always welcome from a scientist’s point of view but I would hazard a guess that the high levels of fat, sugar and salt in a lot of today’s processed food are more of a health concern than any migration of chemicals from the packaging.

Dr Oliver Jones is a Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry and Co-director of the RMIT Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Remediation (EnSuRe).

*****

Although the number of studies linking chemical contamination of foodstuffs to human health problems is increasing, we actually know very little about how chemicals affect bodily functions or promote disease, or at what life stage(s) we are susceptible. In part, this is due to the grave...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.