Some Packaging May Contaminate Food

Toronto, Canada—A recent study by University of Toronto scientists reveals that polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs), the chemicals used to line junk food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags, are contaminating food products. PAPs are applied as grease-proofing agents to paper food contact packaging, and when the human body metabolizes these chemicals, they are broken down into perfluorooctanesulfanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA is a man-made pollutant present in both wildlife and humans that has be shown in animals to cause cancer, immune system failure, neonatal mortality and endocrine disruption.

The study focused on PAP metabolization in rats and found that the PFOA level in rats rose after being exposed to PAPs. The researchers explain that the findings “clearly demonstrate that the current use of PAPs in food contact applications does result in human exposure to PFCAs, including PFOA.” The study affirms regulatory interest in exposure to PAPs and is a significant contribution to food safety concerns.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2011 (online 11/24/2010)