FDA Considers Action to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging

Statement of CSPI Senior Scientist Lisa Lefferts

April 13, 2016

The decision by the Food and Drug Administration that it will consider withdrawing its approval of the ubiquitous toxic chemicals known as ortho-phthalates from use in food packaging and processing equipment is welcome news. The announcement is in response to a food additive petition filed by ten organizations, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Although not directly added to foods, ortho-phthalates are found in many, including meat, dairy products, infant foods, oils, and spices.

It doesn’t make sense to ban some ortho-phthalates from children’s toys, and phase them out of vinyl flooring, but still approve them for contacting food. Ortho-phthalates can cause reproductive and developmental effects. A serious concern is for males exposed before birth. Some may also cause cancer.

Many ortho-phthalates lack adequate safety studies, but all that have been tested for developmental and reproductive effects show a risk. None should be permitted for contact with food.


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