A study published this week by researchers associated with the Zurich, Switzerland-based Food Packaging Forum has sounded the alarm about the number of allegedly hazardous substances contained in food packaging or those that may contaminate food during production, processing, storage and transportation. Birgit Geueke, et al., “Food contact substances and chemicals of concern: a comparison of inventories,” Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, published online July 7, 2014.

The researchers reportedly compared the inventories of three food contact material (FCM) databases—the Pew Charitable Trusts’ list of legal direct and indirect food additives, the EU-wide positive list for plastic FCMs and the European Food Standard Authority’s 2011 non-plastics FCM substances list—with the Substitute It Now! (SIN) list 2.1 and the TEDX database of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Ultimately identifying 175 substances “with hazardous properties,” they found “(1) gaps in the regulation of FCMs and (2) how knowledge from different authorities and organizations could be used to increase chemical safety with the objective of improving public health.”

“From a consumer perspective, it is certainly undesirable and also unexpected to find chemicals of concern being intentionally used in food contact materials, and thus it seems appropriate to replace substances case by case with inherently safer alternatives,” the study concludes.