Plasticiser danger in food

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

04.What do the regulators say?

The Food Standards Code has specific provisions for a few chemicals migrating from packaging materials, but there are no limits set for phthalates or ESBO.

The national regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), told CHOICE it takes a case-by-case approach where levels of chemicals are reported that could have health and safety concerns. It would undertake a risk assessment based on the average consumer’s overall exposure to the chemicals.

At state level, legislation prohibits the sale of food that’s adulterated. In practice, this means that plastic materials in direct contact with foods have to comply with the relevant US and/or EU regulations. However, the US regulations are complex and also operate on a case-by-case basis. So we’d expect the Australian states to follow the European Union’s limit of 60 ppm for ESBO migrating into the food (30 ppm for infants food), and the much lower limits for phthalates.

And the big food companies?

We asked the big food manufacturers whose products we tested for their comments.

  • Heinz told us it would undertake a precautionary withdrawal of two products pending further investigations.
  • Always Fresh (Riviana Foods) is investigating the issue with its suppliers.
  • Leggo’s (Simplot) said it's requesting follow up from its suppliers and awaiting specific direction from FSANZ.
  • Kraft told us it had confirmed with its supplier that no phthalate plasticisers are used in its lid seals. Its tests on five of its products with these lids found no phthalates.

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