Research finds fresh food labels contaminated by toxic BPA-like chemicals
21 Mar 2023 --- A hormone-disrupting cosmic chemical Bisphenol S (BPS), similar to Bisphenol A (BPA), can migrate from food packaging into common foods, Canadian scientists have flagged.
While BPA is a toxic chemical commonly found in plastics that has been linked to various cancers and banned in some countries, BPS is still allowed.
“BPA is a chemical that can interfere with hormones in the human body and cause adverse health outcomes, including cancers, diabetes, and damage to fertility and the development of infants. Now there is growing evidence that BPS may have similar health effects,” says Stéphane Bayen, co-author of the study and an associate professor at the department of food science and agricultural chemistry.
Canadians are exposed to the chemical daily, according to the study published in Science & Technology.
The researchers from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, found that in fresh foods such as meat, cheese, vegetables and fish, the BPS chemicals migrate from the food labels into food items.
“Our study provides evidence, for the first time, that BPS and alternative chemicals found in food labels migrate through packaging materials into the food people eat,” Bayen explains.
Labels and method
When comparing store-bought fish in Canada and the US, the study found higher BPS levels in foods with thermal food labels, such as price tags and stickers, when thermal heat is used, in contrast to when plastic wrapper films, pads and trays are used.
The researchers note that Canada does not regulate BPS levels, but compared to limits set by regulators in the EU, the Canadian levels are “significantly higher.”
BPA is banned in some EU countries and US states, as similar to BPS, it has been found to migrate into foods from packaging. There has also been a link found between BPA and increased blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, Francisco Muriel, director of quality and research, development and innovation department at the SP Group, previously told PackagingInsights.
“Considering the number of packaged food items sold with thermal labels, the actual dietary intake of BPS and other chemicals is likely to be high,” Bayern adds.
The authors highlight the need for additional risk assessment of BPS and its ability to migrate into foods to develop regulatory guidelines for the food sector.
There were no levels of BPA found in the packaging analyzed, but there were significant levels of BPS and alternative color developers. They also found a variation in levels between stores, “suggesting that the use of specific color developers in the manufacture of thermal labels is quite variable,” the study reads.
Recently, a study found that other toxic chemicals also have the ability to migrate. Published in Environmental Science and Technology, the study on lettuce found that tire wear from cars may “end up on our plate” and have the potential to toxify the vegetables we consume, as it carries from the wind to the soil.
Similarly, lead and cadmium are toxic metals found naturally in a lot of soil, although in low amounts. It’s taken up mostly by roots in vegetables and fruits, although not considered dangerous for human health when consumed below certain limits. The EU recently lowered the safety limits for these chemicals in baby food and other produce.
Edited by Beatrice Wihlander
This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website, PackagingInsights.
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