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It’s confirmed toxic chemicals can contaminate food stuffs through packaging materials. Nearly 30 years after a groundbreaking report the proof is now undeniable. 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: business.edf.org

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 sizable 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 childrens development.