food packaging

Dangers Of Chemicals In Food Packaging


Something that has been becoming more and more of a concern in Australia is food packaging. From branding and information that is printed onto the packaging or the packaging itself, it has caused much discussion in the Australian community. And now, the Food Safety Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) are taking it to the next level.

Currently, the FSANZ are reviewing their Food Standards Code and its current stance on chemical migration from packaging into the food people consume. In its present state, it is an offence for manufacturers to sell food packaging or handling materials that are unsafe or will make food unsafe but the specifics of the level of exposure is not pinned down.

The Code as it stands looks a bit like this;

Standard 1.4.3 – Articles and Materials in Contact with Food

This standard specifies that any material in contact with food, including packaging material, must not cause bodily harm, distress or discomfort.

Standard 1.4.1 – Contaminants and Natural Toxicants

The standard includes maximum levels (MLs) for a few chemicals associated with migration from packaging, but is in no way exhaustive. It covers the real nasties, including vinyl chloride, tin, acrylonitrile (a genotoxic carcinogen) and other potential contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls.

Standard 3.2.2 – Food Safety Practices and General Requirements.

This Australia-only standard details requirements on food businesses to only use packaging material that is fit for its intended use; only use material that is not likely to cause food contamination; and ensure that there is no likelihood that the food may become contaminated during the packaging process.

Future of Food Packaging

FSANZ is discussing whether we should be inspired by the EU or the US codes. The EU requirements regulate migration limits and migration into food, whereas the US requirements are around the packaging itself.

Whose approach do you think we should adopt? Or should we start on a completely new slate and come up with our own standards?

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