As food processing and packaging has become increasingly more complex, the question, “What’s in our food?” has become harder to answer. A team of international scientists has compiled a new database of 3,240 potentially harmful chemicals that have been measured in “food contact materials (FCMs),” like packaging and processing equipment, utensils and reusable food containers. Sixty-five percent of these chemicals had not previously been known to be used in FCMs, according to a report released by the Switzerland-based nonprofit Food Packaging Forum.
The report, “Systematic evidence on migrating and extractable food contact chemicals: Most chemicals detected in food contact materials are not listed for use,” was published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
“Food packaging is important for today’s globalized food system, but food contact materials (FCMs) can also be a source of hazardous chemicals migrating into foodstuffs. Assessing the impacts of FCMs on human health requires a comprehensive identification of the chemicals they contain,” the report said.