You may not think about the chemicals used to produce the wide range of packaging that encases the foods you buy and eat on a regular basis, but it might be time to do so. Environmental scientists warn that these chemicals might be harmful to our health over the long term, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. The scientists call this packaging food contact materials (FMCs)—as the name suggests, these are packaging, storage, processing, or preparation materials that come into direct contact with food.
There are over 4,000 different chemicals used in FMCs, and the effects of these chemicals on humans is not even being considered in routine toxicological tests. “Since most foods are packaged, and the entire population is likely to be exposed, it is of utmost importance that gaps in knowledge are reliably and rapidly filled,” state the researchers.
Although not legally considered contaminants, FMCs are a significant source of food contamination, the researchers say. “As a result, humans consuming packaged or processed foods are chronically exposed to synthetic chemicals at low levels throughout their lives, including the most sensitive periods of development.”
They call for studies into the effects of these widespread chemicals and their associations to disease. Currently, we hear about some of these toxins—BPA and phthalates are the most common, but there are so many more that aren’t even being considered. In the meantime, when you purchase food, try to minimize packaging as much as possible. Purchase your food in glass containers—the most inert of all packaging—when possible. Just be sure to recycle!–