Based on a small sample of butter purchased in Texas grocery stores, researchers have concluded that high levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) found in one sample “were likely transferred from contaminated wrapping paper to butter.” Arnold Schecter, et al., “Contamination of U.S. Butter with Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers from Wrapping Paper,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011. While they were unable to pinpoint the contamination’s source, the study’s authors suggest that their research can “serve to alert the public, scientists, food processors, and regulatory agencies that relatively high levels of food contamination with emerging POPs [persistent organic pollutants] sometimes occurs.” They call for additional research and spot checks by regulatory agencies “to determine when and where screening for POPs contamination of food is most appropriate and would also help reduce incidence of contaminated food sold to the public.”
Meanwhile, in commentary on recent scientific literature involving food contact materials, an assistant University of Rochester obstetrics and gynecology research professor suggests that insufficient attention is being paid to “a broad swath of chemicals found in canned, packaged and other processed food.” Emily Barrett calls the plastics used to package foods “a forgotten component of food safety.” She cites research that has found endocrine disruptors, such as bisphenol A and phthalates, as well as carcinogens, such as benzophenone, in food packaging, noting that they are not routinely tested or regulated in food. See Environmental Health News, February 7, 2011.