In recent months, many activities have been carried out to ensure the safety of food packaging. Were lawsuits against Burger King and McDonald’sfocused on forever chemicals or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), in their packaging. As well as states through United States. and the countries of the European Union began to take measures to exposure to PFAS and other chemicals, including BPA, an industrial chemical used to make some plastics and resins. (You’ve probably seen refillable water bottles labeled “BPA Free”.)

These chemicals were associated with health problems such as hypertension, crayfish as well as infertility.

Solving the insidious problem of the chemical impact of food packaging – some of these chemicals have been found in blood streams and placenta It will likely take several approaches.

“For a long time, we have been engaging companies across the food supply chain on the need for safer food packaging,” said Boma Brown-West, director of consumer health at EDF+ Business. For example, an organization has worked with cross-industry group catering establishments, NGOs and technical experts on U.P. Scorecardwhich the group describes as “a single yardstick for measuring and comparing the sustainability performance of widely used food utensils and food packaging materials, especially those used in the food service industry.”


But there are still barriers for companies that want to change their packaging. “There is a lack of transparency in the system about what chemicals are used in packaging materials,” Brown-West said.

EDF+Business has recently launched a new food packaging web tool – Separate from Scorecard – which aims to help companies make it easier to design truly round packaging free of toxic chemicals. EDF worked with an independent consultant and conducted research to better understand the current use of chemicals in List of Food Chemicals of Concern (FCOC)compiled by the UP Scorecard group.

Brown-West said the tool serves as a guide for companies that think, “There are so many chemicals that I can work with or need to work with.” [potentially] find on my system and fix. How do I get started?”

Chemicals are added to food packaging throughout the supply chain (see illustration below), so eliminating them all can be a challenge.

Brown-West noted that the tool is also her way of organizing to make sure companies don’t see this as just a single chemical issue.

“It’s not just about PFAS. It’s not just BPA. It’s not just perchlorates. All of these chemicals are widely used in many different types of food contact materials,” she said. “What is really needed is a comprehensive approach by companies to solve the problem of chemical safety once and for all, and not [take] one-time approach.

Where do you start

Let’s say you are an employee of a food company. You want to start removing as many chemicals from the packaging as possible, and for this you use the tool from EDF. When you get to the website, you can choose one of two ways: click the button labeled “Food Containers” or the button labeled “Chemicals of Concern”.

The EDF guideline is to “click on the food container button and the food container icon to see what materials the container is made of”. Users can choose from the following options: carton container; takeaway plastic container; plastic grocery; metal can; a bag or box of several materials; a disposable tray, plate or dish; or glass bottle or jar.

Once you click on one of these types of packaging, you will be presented with a list of the ingredients the container is made of and the chemicals associated with them. For a cardboard container, the parts are a paper body, a paper/cardboard outer shell and a cardboard inner lining.


Chemicals are represented by three levels developed by the UP Scorecard group. According to the group, Tier 1 chemicals are substances that must be controlled and avoided “because the potential health effects from ingestion are of great concern.” Levels two and three represent other sets of toxic chemicals “that should not be used in the manufacture of food contact materials.”

In addition to removing FCOC from packaging, EDF is calling for action on food packaging.

“I would like all food companies to have a chemical policy,” Brown-West said. “But unfortunately that’s not the case today.”

Such a policy can serve as a form of accountability and a basis for companies to communicate chemical standards and obligations to themselves, their suppliers and other stakeholders. EDF+Business created a template companies can use to develop their policies.

“We think it’s very important for companies to really think about what their goals and actions will be in terms of transparency, in terms of eliminating known chemicals of concern, and in terms of providing safer alternatives,” Brown-West said. “All of these things can be reflected in a comprehensive corporate chemical policy.”

She also noted that these resources are just a few of the many that companies can use to reduce or eliminate the chemicals used in their products. Tools are available for them to get started.

“If companies want to improve their reputation or even just protect it…now is the time to really take action, be proactive and start addressing chemical safety issues today, instead of waiting or postponing it,” Brown-West said.

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