Over 4,000 Chemicals Used by the Food Packaging Industry
Written By: Anthony Alayon
C.F.T., C.S.N., & Best Selling Author
A noted publication, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, posted commentaries on the chemicals the food industry uses in our foods and packaging–chemicals that have some known health risks. The most troubling issue is that the long-term health risks to consumers are still not fully known or understood.
Danger to Consumers versus Stakeholder Interest
These chemicals are allowed by the Food and Drug Administration, but even in small permitted amounts, the food additives and chemicals used in food packaging can be dangerous, especially to fetuses that are still developing. When food chemicals are used in combination, researchers and scientists don’t know what the effects of these new compounds could be. Health issues, such as organ damage, babies with birth defects, cancer, and hormonal issues are developing, probably from the consumption of processed foods and the packaging used to hold these foods.
FDA and other regulatory agencies around the world are still learning about and debating the health effects of food and food packaging chemicals. While this debate is still being carried out, consumers are risking exposure and potentially dangerous risks to their health as they eat processed foods. Most processed foods are packaged in plastic and other substances, which means that the entire population could be exposed to dangerous chemicals and additives. To this date, food regulatory policy makers are still trying to balance the nutrition and health needs of consumers against those of the food chemical stakeholders.
Some Well-Known Chemicals
Over 4,000 chemicals were named in the commentaries. These chemicals, referred to as “food contact materials,” include the following:
º Melamine is an adhesive used in food packaging and has been linked to tumors and kidney failure in animal studies.
º Formaldehyde, which is used in some plastic bottles, is a known carcinogen. Consumers risk developing some form of cancer every time they consume anything contained in plastic bottles made with formaldehyde.
º Bisphenol A was a big topic in the news. This compound, known as “BPA,” is suspected of being a hormone disrupter and has been linked to behavior problems in children, as well as other health conditions.
º Phthalates have been used in children’s and baby products. Phthalates have been linked to obesity in children and adults, as well as insulin resistance.
Risks from Food Packaging Versus Benefits of Whole Foods
Consumers putting processed foods into their grocery carts probably aren’t thinking about the risks to their health. Instead, they are more concerned with finding tasty foods and snacks their families will eat.
While the chemicals in processed foods can cause some pretty significant health issues, the chemicals used to package processed foods are even worse. In the U.S. alone, the packaging used to house 80 percent of our packaged foods contain chemicals that have been deemed too dangerous to be used in other countries around the world.
What can consumers do to protect themselves? Simply, buy whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and organic meats. Make entrees, side dishes and desserts from scratch, using only unprocessed staples and whole foods. Eating a diet composed of whole foods is better, anyway.
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