Food Packaging Forum: How hazardous chemicals are managed in FCMs

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

'Scientists are understaffed, underfunded, and don't have political power,' says Backhaus
'Scientists are understaffed, underfunded, and don't have political power,' says Backhaus

Related tags Risk

The Food Packaging Forum (FPF) opened its second annual workshop on hazardous chemicals in food contact materials (FCM), calling for a stronger and professional regulatory system.

As part of the event in Zurich, Switzerland, this week, attendees including Nestlé, Amcor Flexibles, Owens-Illinois, and ECMA (European Carton Makers Association), heard how known chemicals of concern are knowingly and intentionally used in the manufacture of FCMs. 

Toxicology is changing

Professor Thomas Backhaus, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and a member of the Food Packaging Forum Foundation Board, Switzerland, said chemical risk assessment (CRS) ‘falls between the cracks’ because analysis is driven by how we use the chemical, not by the chemical properties. 

Chemical use and production is changing and that implies the toxicology is changing​,” he said. 

We have a very complex ‘cocktail’ of chemicals. Not just visible chemicals but those that are harder to detect at first sight. We are concerned about the chronic long-term delayed effects. There are new challenges for risk assessment and some we are struggling with​.” 

In his presentation, Backhaus referred to LMWP (low molecular weight phthalate metabolites), the effects of copper on fish, endocrine effects of atrazine and the EU REACH system (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). 

Professor Thomas Backhaus
Professor Thomas Backhaus

REACH system

We have to acknowledge for the vast majority of chemicals there is only a vague understanding of how they interact in real conditions​,” he said. 

We have to act on that non-knowledge and build a better ‘strategy’ of how we approach that. We need a stronger and professional regulatory system​. 

Scientists are understaffed, underfunded, and don’t have the political power to make things happen. We need to work towards an established academia in that field, but that is dependent on external funding​.”

FPF is a charitable, not-for-profit organization founded in 2012 and based in Zurich, Switzerland. 

It is governed by an independent foundation board consisting of an international group of academic scientists and science communication experts. It is funded by donations from companies including the packaging supply chain. 

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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