Plasticiser danger in food

CHOICE tested foods in glass jars and found contaminants from the plastic used to seal the lids.
Learn more
  • Updated:12 Jun 2008

01.What's lurking under the lid?

Glass jars with plastic lids

Next time you open a jar of pasta sauce, have a look at the inside of the lid. Around the edge there’s a ring of rubbery material — a gasket, that fits against the glass and forms the seal. It’s made from PVC but also contains chemicals called plasticisers, which give it the right mechanical properties to form a good seal. This seal ensures the food inside is protected from harmful bacteria.

In our test of 25 foods in glass jars, 13 contained the plastic-softening chemicals epoxidised soybean oil (ESBO) or phthalates at levels that exceed the limits set by the European Union. Australian food regulations don’t set limits for these chemicals and while there’s no immediate risk to your health, there’s no guarantee that these chemicals are OK in the long-term.

CHOICE wants better protection for consumers.

CHOICE verdict

We haven’t listed the products we tested because they are just examples of the many affected products likely to be on the market and they pose no immediate health danger to individuals.

What we are concerned with is the long-term health implications of plasticisers migrating into foods. CHOICE wants to see the industry and the regulator address the risk of plasticisers in food.

The food industry needs to find alternatives to ESBO and phthalates that are known to be safe, while FSANZ should ensure the Food Standards Code sets limits for plasticisers in food.

Please note: this information was current as of June 2008 but is still a useful guide today.



Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.