Plastic pallet company rejects decabromodiphenyl ether leaching claims

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food and drug administration Food safety Fda

A leading plastic pallet company has labelled allegations that a toxic chemical contained in its products can leach into food as “misleading, inaccurate and highly suspect”.

Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS) has mounted a robust defence of plastic pallets following calls by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that the fire retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca) be banned.As reported recently, EWG raised its concerns with the US Food and Drug Administration in a letter to Dr Margaret Hamburg that the substance could be migrating into food during the process of hydro cooling.

Leaching allegations dismissed

iGPS has rejected the allegations and said it offered the world’s most advanced and safest pallet.

“On June 24, 2009, iGPS received confirmation that its pallet passed the pre-certification testing requirements under NSF/ANSI 51-2009 for use in food preparation splash zones, further confirming its safety in conjunction with food,”​ iGPS told “In addition, independent testing of our pallet has documented no detectable transfer of decabromine to foods—or even to food packaging—when shipped on the iGPS pallet.”

Responding to charges that Deca was carcinogenic, iGPS said: “No authoritative governmental public health, environmental or regulatory agency in the world classifies decabromine as a known or suspected carcinogen.”

The company also said superior fire safety attributes of plastic pallets were “well documented”​ because of the encapsulation of the chemical decabromine in its resin. iGPS added it was the most widely used fire retardant in the world, with over 1,000 technical studies confirming its safety. The company said plastic pallets were very hygienic as they “absorb no liquids and are constructed of an ideal material for food processing and transport”.


iGPS attacked references by EWG to a letter to from Dr. Elizabeth Sánchez of the FDA’S Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition that Deca was “not authorized” ​as a component of plastic pallets used in the hydro-cooling produce and that the FDA required pre-market approval for the chemical “to be used in contact with food.” ​The company said a lobby group had “inappropriately solicited” ​the opinion from the FDA expert.

“The process used to generate an opinion from the FDA, a pre-notification consultation, is normally requested by a company seeking the FDA's input when considering use of a new food additive,”​ said iGPS. The lobbyists had “subverted and abused the FDA process by posing a hypothetical situation that it knew would generate a negative answer,” ​it added.

The company criticised the EWG as “highly irresponsible” ​for apparently not basing its concerns on new research, instead relying solely on Dr Sanchez’s answers.

“Had EWG understood the context of the FDA correspondence and availed itself of readily available science, it would have learned that the solubility of decabromine (less than 0.1 parts per billion) falls dramatically below the levels the FDA regards as meaningful,”​ iGPS said.

FDA considers Deca allegations

FDA spokesman Sebastian Cianci told FoodProduction “The FDA has received the letter from EWG and will give it careful consideration.

“If Deca is being used in food contact material and it is migrating to food as a result, then it would be a food additive requiring pre-market approval from FDA. No pre-market approval exists for Deca in food contact materials.”


iGPS concluded: “We believe that iGPS has introduced the first major innovation in reusable pallets since their introduction following WWII. Unfortunately, innovation can also be threatening to those who profit from the status quo, and we believe that the irresponsible charges being made about iGPS stem from an attempt to thwart innovation rather than embrace it.” contacted the EWG for a response to iGPS’ comments but had received no reply by the time of publication.

Related topics Food safety & quality

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