Flexible Packaging Films: Precautions to be Taken
The plasticizers used predominantly in flexible films are compounds called adipates. On contact with food, these plasticizers tend to leave the film and find themselves in the food. This is especially the case for fatty foods.
Food at Risk
The main adipate is Di (2-ethylhexyl) adipate or DEHA. It is often mixed with phthalates in packaging films.
Household films would contain about 20% adipates (DEHA essentially), but commercial films may have higher values (these films are generally thicker and therefore the amount of DEHA needed is higher).
DEHA migrates to varying levels depending on the packaged food: The more the food is fat, the more it remains packed for a long time, the more the temperature is raised and the more the migration is raised.
- Fruits and vegetables contain it little (except avocado);
- Moderate, sometimes occasionally high, levels are found in fresh meat and cooked poultry;
- The highest rates are found in packaged sandwiches and cheeses;
- Migration is important when a film is heated in the microwave.
British researchers estimate that the diet brings about 3 mg of DEHA per day, the maximum intake being around 8 mg.
The tolerable daily intake in Europe is 0.3 mg/kg body weight.
Potential health risks
- DEHA causes abnormal fetal mothers who received high doses during pregnancy. DEHA would have teratogenic effects at high doses.
- Studies in female mice (but not in male mice or rats) show an increased risk of liver cancer.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers that DEHA can not be classified as carcinogenic due to lack of data in humans and limited evidence in animals.
- Limit the use of home films, especially if you are expecting a child or if your children are very young. Studies in animals show that toxic effects are more pronounced on developing organisms.
- Ask the merchant not to film the fatty foods you buy (especially cheeses). Bring a container for this purpose.
- If you can not avoid filmed foods, you can reduce your exposure by eliminating with a knife a thin layer of food that has been in contact with the film. Then store the food in an inert container (glass, ceramic) or less toxic (hard plastic).
- PVC (and plasticizers) are found in plastic packaging of packaged biscuits and chocolates, chocolate bars, some bottles.
- They are also found in cosmetics: bath oils, eyeshadow, eau de toilette, foundation, lipstick, moisturizing cream, blush, self-tanning…