In a bid to ensure food safety, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned three chemicals often found in food packagings such as pizza boxes and microwavable popcorn bags.
Health experts had for some time expressed concerns over the safety of these chemicals.
In the past, food manufacturing companies had used three types of long-chain perfluorinated compounds to obstruct grease from leaking through the packaging like fast-food wrappers, microwavable popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and pet food bags.
‘The U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided to ban three common chemicals found in pizza boxes citing health hazards to consumers. The legal prohibition went into effect on January 4.’
A petition in 2014 proposed the ban of three perfluoroalkyl ethyl containing food-contact substances as water and oil repellents for paperboard and paper for use in contact with aqueous and fatty food items.
The Center for Food Safety, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Center for Environmental Health, the Breast Cancer Fund, Clean Water Action, the Children's Environmental Working Group and Improving Kids' Environments, the Center for Science in the Public Interest had submitted the
Petition to the regulator.
The petition signatories stated that these chemicals have the ability to harm fetal development, pre-and post-natal brain development and male reproductive systems. They can also cause
The petitioners mentioned an FDA study from 2008 which discovered that 59% of more than 1,000 food sample items had detectable levels of perchlorate and that kids younger than six had the greatest average exposure.
In the appeal, the groups said they found, at least, ten animal studies released between 2009 and 2014 that confirmed FDA's Toxicology conclusions that there are "significant gaps" in our knowledge about the safety of perfluorocarboxylates.
A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, says that many of the synthetic chemicals involved in the packaging of the food we eat can leak into it, potentially harming our physical as well as mental health.
Food contact materials are usually produced with plastic or contain a synthetic material that is in direct contact with food items. This includes coating, lamination in drink cartons or the closures of glass jars.
The FDA made the decision to ban the chemicals in December 2015, citing health hazards posed by these chemicals through a comprehensive analysis of the available literature. The legal prohibition went into effect on January 4. The three banned chemicals are as follows:
1. Diethanolamine salts of mono-and bis (1 H, 1 H, 2 H, 2Hperfluoroalkyl) phosphates where the alkyl group is in the range C8-C18 and the salts hold a fluorine content of 52.4% to 54.4% as determined on a solids basis
2. Pentanoic acid, 4,4-bis [(gamma-omega-perfluoro-C8-20-alkyl)thio] derivatives, compounds with diethanolamine (CAS Reg. No. 71608-61-2)
3. Perfluoroalkyl substituted phosphate ester acids, ammonium salts developed by the reaction of 2,2-bis[([gamma], [omega]-perfluoro C4-20 alkylthio) methyl]-1, 3-propanediol, ammonium hydroxide and polyphosphoric acid.
The food safety regulator in a statement said that the three banned chemicals are already rarely used in the country, with most food packaging firms willingly staying away from them.
The SPI - The Plastics Industry Trade Association, the third largest manufacturing sector in the US echoed the FDA's observations in a statement: "It is the understanding of SPI's member companies that the materials listed in FDA's final rule are no longer manufactured for food-contact applications and represent an old technology. FDA's action thus does not impact SPI's members."