Food packaging is crucial for today’s globalized food system, but food contact materials can also be a source of dangerous chemicals migrating into foodstuffs. An international research has confirmed that the safest packaging for consumers’ health is glass and ceramic.
The primacy of glass
Research, published in the journal “Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition”, has identified about 3000 chemicals that can leak from packaging into food, making human exposure to these substances highly probable. More precisely, the study revealed that of the 2,881 Food Contact Chemicals detected, only 47 were identified in glass or ceramic packaging; a result that amounted to less than 2%.
Worse outcomes for plastic and paper
In contrast, for plastic containers the percentage approaches 70%, with 1975 chemicals detected. While for paper and cardboard it slightly exceeds 30% (887).
As stated by Adeline Farrelly, secretary general of FEVE (Fédération Européenne du Verre d’Emballage), “the study shows that glass is safest among the packaging materials as it has virtually no detected chemicals and therefore is the safest for human health”.
Towards deeper research
Another insight from the study is that only 35% of the Food Contact Chemicals found were known. The remaining 65% were not recorded in any regulatory or industry list to date.
There is therefore a significant knowledge gap to fill on food contact legislation, as Farrelly suggests. “Life Cycle Assessment methodologies on packaging must take into account chemicals, including hazardous ones, used in food contact packaging materials that can potentially leak into the environment”.
Sources: glass-international.com, tandfonline.com