Speaking at FoodProductionDaily’s Food Packaging Migration forum on Friday (March 13, 2015), Neltner referred to a report by Dr Sheela Sathyanarayana, environmental health paediatrician, UW School of Public Health and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
Phthalates in coriander
She found people are exposed to chemicals in their diet even if it is organic and not stored in plastic containers and the information we give families today is not enough to reduce exposures.
Neltner said the UW compared the chemical exposures of 10 families, half of whom were given instructions by the national Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit on how to reduce phthalate and BPA (bisphenol A) exposures whereas the others received a five-day catered diet of local, fresh, organic food.
“Unfortunately, when the researchers tested the participants’ urine, the control group which was given the prepared meals had levels that were 16-25 times higher than the group that was eating normal meals due to two sources; one was a spice and the other was the dairy products,” he said.
“The chef loved coriander, it was used a lot in the food and was a source of contamination, the other was dairy products, the phthalates in the dairy hoses contaminated the food and was an issue of widespread contamination.”
'We have very little control over what’s in our food'
The researchers found the dairy products, the butter, cream, milk, and cheese had concentrations above 440 nanograms/gram. Ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper had concentrations above 700 ng/g, and ground coriander had concentrations of 21,400 ng/g.
The team estimated the average child aged three to six years old was exposed to 183 milligrams per kilogram of their body weight per day. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limit is 20 mg/kg/day.
“It’s difficult to control your exposure to these chemicals, even when you try,” said Sathyanarayana.
“We have very little control over what’s in our food, including contaminants. Families can focus on buying fresh fruits and vegetables, foods that are not canned and are low in fat, but it may take new federal regulations to reduce exposures to these chemicals.”
Publication: Nature Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Title: ‘Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposure’, 2013.
Researchers: Garry Alcedo (Seattle Children’s Research Institute), Brian E. Saelens and Chuan Zhou (UW Department of Pediatrics, Seattle Children’s Research Institute), Russell L. Dills and Jianbo Yu (UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences) and Bruce Lanphear (BC Children’s Hospital and Simon Fraser University).
FoodProductionDaily’s forum on Food Packaging Migration on March 13, is available to listen to for three months after the event. To hear the recording, register here.