Why Has The FDA Banned This Common Packaging Additive?

Food contact substances (FCSs) do the job of repelling water, oils, and other liquids from paper and cardboard food packaging. Occasionally used in pizza boxes, microwaved popcorn bags, and other cartons and containers, these chemicals can help keep packaging dry and food securely contained.

However, some of them have now been determined unsafe for use in food packaging and have been subsequently banned by the FDA. What sparked the decision and will it have a major affect on the food and beverage industry?

1pizzaImage Source: Wikipedia 

Chemical Concerns And Answers To Advocacy
This past December, the FDA decided to ban three types of perfluoroalkyl ethyl that are sometimes used in FCSs. The FDA said they reached their decision after new data revealed the toxicity of chemicals that where structurally similar to the FCS compounds in question.

Some heath and environmental organizations have continued to raise concern over the use long-chain perfluorinated compounds in food packaging and their connection with cancer and birth defects. Advocacy groups have urged the FDA to take action through a Food Additive Petition.

The petition was submitted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety, the Breast Cancer Fund, the Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, among several others.

While concerns over the chemicals have spread, the FDA stated that their use is rare and that most food packaging manufacturers voluntarily avoid the specific chemicals in most packaging food products.

popcornImage Source: Wikipedia 

Just The First Step Of Many More?
According to the Plastics Industry Trade Association, the chemicals deemed unsafe were more common with older food packaging technology, which is no longer widely used by food packaging manufacturers.

The FDA’s decision to ban the specific types of perfluoroalkyl ethyl shouldn’t cause much upset in the food and drug industry, but advocacy groups have said this action should be just the first step in increased food safety measures and that similar chemical bans should also be promptly put into effect by the FDA.

Considering how food labeling, safe handling, use of ingredients, and other issues have been strong in the public consciousness as of late, do you think we’ll see more signifiant changes in food and beverage, and food packaging industries?

Tell us your thoughts on this issue in the comments.

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Camryn Shea

Is a longtime business consultant and a writer who loves to read about the Maker Movement that’s been made possible through technology. In her free time, she enjoys antiquing and touring vineyards.

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