Food plastic packaging might be filled with harmful substances | Borneo Bulletin Online

AFP – From yoghurt pots and salad trays to cheese slices wrapped in film, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have analysed the packaging of several food products purchased between winter 2020 and spring 2021, from five countries around the world (United States, Germany, Norway, Britain and South Korea) selected for their high plastic consumption. The aim was to determine whether packaging in contact with food contained substances that could prove harmful to consumers.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, their research reveals the presence of (many) chemical substances in the food packaging analysed.

“We found as many as 9,936 different chemicals in a single plastic product used as food packaging,” said Professor Martin Wagner at NTNU’s Department of Biology.

But the two studies presented not only highlight the presence of these chemicals, but also their potential impact on consumer health. The first study reports on harmful substances that can affect hormone secretion and metabolism.

“These functions are absolutely vital. Hormones are the body’s messengers. They are secreted from various different glands and enable the different organs to communicate with each other. Metabolism is (the) sum of the various processes that enable the body to use nutrients to provide the body with energy and substances it needs to function,” the news release said.

The second study demonstrated that combinations of chemical substances found in these food packaging items could affect receptors essential to the transmission of signals in the body. The researchers identified no fewer than 11 such chemical combinations. “These and previous findings show that plastic exposes us to toxic chemicals. They support the theory that we need to redesign plastic to make it safer,” said Marin Wagner.

The authors of this research are somewhat pessimistic about future discoveries concerning the chemicals present in this type of plastic.

“Because plastic contains so many different chemicals, researchers still can only identify a few of them at a time. This means we still know very little about the effects that most of these chemicals have,” the news release concluded.

In March, a study conducted by the Food Packaging Forum Foundation revealed the presence of so-called forever chemicals (PFAS) in food packaging, some of which “are not included in any regulatory or industry inventories of chemicals used during manufacture”.