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Is Packaged Food Safe?

23 Aug

I read an interesting article on food packaging and the safety concerns most of us never think about. I have greatly reduced the amount of pre-packaged foods my family consumes, but there are still some valid concerns over what the boxes, bags and wrappers may contain. Here is a portion of the article:

— Packaging Digest, 7/23/2009 3:53:00 PM
Fourteen percent of retail packaging failed a screening test for toxic heavy metals and is likely in violation of state laws, according to a report just released by the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH, or Clearinghouse). Imported products using flexible polyvinylchloride (PVC) packaging and the printing inks and colorants used on shopping and produce bags were most likely to contain these toxic metals, including lead and cadmium, known environmental and health hazards.

The report, An Assessment of Heavy Metals in Packaging: 2009 Update, found that lead concentrations detected in printing inks and colorants used on plastic bags were typically 20 times greater than the legal limit established by states. Toxics in packaging laws in 19 states prohibit the intentional use of any amount of lead, cadmium, mercury, and hexavalent chromium. These laws also establish a maximum concentration limit of 100 parts per million (ppm) for the incidental, or unintentional, presence of the four metals combined.

Lead or cadmium were also found in 52% of flexible PVC packaging, mostly imported from China and Pakistan, making these imports the most likely to be in violation of state laws. Flexible PVC, a “heavy-duty” plastic material, is frequently used to package home furnishings, pet supplies, cosmetics, and inexpensive toys. Metals, including cadmium and lead compounds, can be used as heat and ultraviolet stabilizers in PVC resin to control degradation during processing and use.

These findings were based on the screening of over 400 packaging samples using x-ray fluorescent (XRF) analysis by the TPCH, with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Aside from reading our product lables, it is time for us to all be concious in our purchasing decisions to include the entire process of production before we spend our money and place the food in our mouths.

~RawMa

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