In her report Blythman claims many chemicals used to make food packaging match the criteria for “substances of very high concern” set by the European Union’s chemical authorisation body and chemicals linked to health concerns, such as formaldehyde and propylparaben, are routinely and legally used to pack what we eat and drink.
Packaging substances are not listed on food labels
“If you have ever felt cheated when those last remnants of ketchup stuck stubbornly at the bottom of the container, you might be receptive to cutting-edge LiquiGlide, although you are unlikely to know of its presence because packaging substances are not listed on food labels,” she said.
“Reportedly, LiquiGlide was invented for coating car windshields and aeroplane wings, but it has been reformulated to line glass, plastic and metal food packaging. When applied to the inside of a bottle, the walls are so lubricated that condiments that would normally stick to the inside almost fall out. Mayonnaise dispensers treated with it hit the shelves this year.”
Speaking to FoodProductionDaily, Smith said its product is safe to use in food packaging.
“LiquiGlide wasn't invented specifically for car windshields and plane wings, though some of the initial problems we were looking to solve were surface build-up problems, like fog and ice,” he said.
“More specifically, we were looking for a solution that would help eliminate methane hydrate crystals from forming on the inside of oil and gas pipelines.
“The technology we invented is very flexible, and it’s not a single chemical compound, which Blythman seems to imply. Instead, our coatings combine a textured solid layer with a liquid that gets trapped within it by very strong capillary forces to create a slippery, permanently wet coating that is microns thick.
“Each coating is customized to meet the needs of each particular application and the choice of materials is in the hundreds. What Blythman fails to inform her readers, is that for food applications, our coatings can be made entirely from food ingredients, making them completely safe.”
Chemicals such as alkyl mono and disulfonic acids
According to Blythman, many forms of plastic packaging, used for products such as ready-grated cheese, are often treated with a microscopic layer of chemicals, such as alkyl mono and disulfonic acids, aluminium borate and N,N-bis (2-hydroxyethyl) dodecanamide.
They provide an “anti-fog” effect by stopping a build-up of moisture in the container, or act as “antistatics”, performing a non-stick function that allows foods such as honey and chocolate sauce to slip more easily.
The UK Food Standards Agency states: ‘Consumers should not be concerned by the presence of chemicals in food contact materials if they are used within any limits or restrictions set for their use.’
“Packaging manufacturers must legally guarantee that their products “do not transfer their constituents to food in quantities which could endanger human health”, so who would expect chemicals known to be toxic to be used intentionally in food-contact materials,” added Blythman.
“One of the latest films, designed to pack cooked meats, cheese, milk, condiments and salad dressings, is composed of no fewer than seven microscopically thin plastic layers, and is described thus: ‘A multilayer plastic film comprising polyethylene outer layers with inner layers of additional polyethylene adjacent to tie layers of adhesive bonded to a blended polyamide and polyvinyl alcohol core.’
“Unless you are an expert in polymer chemistry, it may not mean much. Suffice to say, this film keeps out air and moisture, yet still looks attractive on the shelf. Food packaging technology is tirelessly revolutionary with up-to-the-minute, game-changing options becoming available all the time.”