Levels of plasticisers in Australian packaged foods meet international safety standards: FSANZ survey

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The findings mean that FSANZ will no longer press ahead with a planned packaging proposal. ©iStock
The findings mean that FSANZ will no longer press ahead with a planned packaging proposal. ©iStock
A new survey undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand food regulator found that levels of plasticisers in food products are generally low and below internationally recognised safe levels.

The Survey of Plasticisers in Australian Foods investigated the levels of seven plasticisers used in packaging materials across 65 food and beverage items.

They were:

  • di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
  • diisononyl phthalate (DINP)
  • butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP)
  • dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP)
  • the adipate plasticiser; di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate (DEHA)
  • the citrate plasticiser; acetyltributylcitrate (ATBC).

The regulator said that over the past ten years, there has been increased international scrutiny regarding food packaging chemicals and potential adverse effects on human health. However, they found no for cause concern in the products tested,

The report, published by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) stated: “These substances have been associated with plastic, paper and cardboard food packaging as well as food grade adhesives and sealants. The survey looked at 65 different packaged foods and beverages that represent typical consumption patterns for Australian consumers.

“The survey results indicate that the levels of these seven plasticisers in Australian foods are generally low. Estimated dietary exposure for Australian consumers was below internationally recognised safe levels. No public health and safety concerns were identified for the Australian population.”

The findings mean that FSANZ will no longer press ahead with packaging proposal (P1034), which considered several options in managing the risks associated with potential migration of substances found in food contact materials.

“In short, development of a food regulatory measure was not recommended for the following reasons,” added the regulator.

“The risk assessment concluded that exposures to most chemicals used to produce food packaging are low and unlikely to pose a public health and safety concern.  Stakeholder consultation confirmed that industry has sufficient control measures in place."

Furthermore, it added: “Residual risk can be addressed adequately by measures other than a food regulatory measure.”

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