First Free Global Inventory Launched of Chemicals Used to Make Food Contact Materials

Public database lists over 12,200 chemicals that can be used in the manufacture of food contact materials, identifies 608 priority hazardous chemicals, highlights missing toxicity data for 29%

Zurich, Switzerland – Over 12,200 chemicals are potentially used to make food packaging and other food contact articles, according to a newly published, freely accessible inventory. The Food Contact Chemicals database (FCCdb) was compiled from over 50 governmental and industry sources and is global in scope. An accompanying peer-reviewed article highlights the key findings:

  • The FCCdb contains chemicals that can be used in the manufacture of diverse food contact materials, including widely used plastics, paper and board, metals, and glass, as well as less known materials such as printing inks, silicones, textiles, and adhesives.
  • 12,285 distinct food contact chemicals (FCCs) are potentially used in the manufacture of food contact materials and articles.
  • 71% of these substances have publicly available toxicity data, while the remainder lack openly accessible toxicity data.
  • 608 food contact chemicals were identified as most hazardous substances and thus high-priority candidates for substitution in food contact material manufacturing.

The study was published on November 30, 2020 as open access article in the journal Environment International and on the same day the updated version of the FCCdb will be released on the Zenodo platform.

“This database is a much-needed, freely available resource describing the universe of food contact chemicals,” says Jane Muncke, managing director of the Food Packaging Forum and co-author of the study. “Chemical exposure from food contact articles like packaging must be systematically addressed, and any hazardous substances removed – and not replaced with other, less well studied chemicals that turn out to be regrettable substitutions, like BPS that replaced BPA. Getting the toxics out is essential as society moves toward a circular economy and increases the use of recycled or alternative materials. This database enables stakeholders to tackle this task in a systematic way.”

Food contact chemicals (FCCs) have previously been highlighted as being of concern for human health. While there is a great amount of information for some of the most well studied FCCs, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, thousands of reported FCCs lack openly available data on their hazardous properties and/or level of human exposure – but these are critical data for determining human health risks. The FCCdb is a valuable resource that can be used by all stakeholders to identify and address such knowledge gaps and to support further research targeting the safety of food contact materials.

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