4 Reasons Why Food Contact Plastic Will Never be Regulated

This is an insightful article divulging the truth about food contact plastic that is buried deep in the scientific literature.



I knew in my heart that plastic was not safe for our health.  When I began researching I was shocked to find that it only takes one serve of canned soup per day to increase BPA levels 1000% (Carwile et al, 2011) and that BPA has been linked to many of the non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, liver problems, diabetes, breast cancer, fertility problems, miscarriages, gastrointestinal diseases, adrenal stress, immune dysfunction, behavioural changes, reproductive problems, altered pubertal onset, prostate disease, abnormal mammary gland development, abnormal brain development, neurological disorders, increased risk of addictive behaviours, heightened aggressiveness and more (Buckley et al, 2012; Ferguson et al, 2014; Manikkam et al, 2013; Srivastava & Godara, 2013). 

Imagine, just one take-away coffee a day, in a plastic lined disposable cup, and well.....later on…… heart disease, reproductive problems, diabetes, behavioural changes, problems with brain function or something else……

Our health is affected by plastic because polymer manufacturing, the second stage of making plastic consumes 90% of the chemicals of greatest concern to human health (Rossi & Blake, 2014).  Plastic has really only become a household item since the late 1940’s. 

Now 2 million tonnes of BPA is used each year in various plastic products.  BPA is just one of the thousands of chemicals used to make 244 million metric tonnes of plastic each year (Rossi & Blake, 2014) from crude oil and natural gas in the first stage, with the addition of many dangerous chemicals in the second and third stages of plastic manufacture (DeMatteo et al, 2012 & Yang et al, 2011).

It is now well known that dangerous chemicals migrate from plastic (Avella et al, (2005); Carillo et al, 2011; Colacino et al, 2010; Geueke et al, 2014; Muncke et al, 2014; Shen et al, 2015; Srivastava & Godara, 2013; Vandenberg et al, 2012 & Yang et al, 2011).  It would be nice to have an authority “regulate” the chemicals especially because they migrate into food (Avella et al, 2005; Geueke et al, 2014; Muncke et al, 2014 & Yang et al, 2011) , however such an undertaking is impossible for 4 key reasons:

1) the chemical ingredients of plastic are proprietary meaning they do not have to be disclosed (Yang et al, 2011),

2) the chemicals that leach from plastic act synergistically in our body with chemicals from the environment, pharmaceutical drugs and other synthetic ingredients in packaged food (Christiansen et al, 2009; Geueke et al, 2014; Muncke et al, 2014 & Vandenber et al, 2012),

3) very low doses of these chemicals can have a bigger effect in the body than larger doses (DeMatteo et al, 2012; Kinch et al, 2015 & Muncke et al, 2014), and

4) the chemicals from plastic accumulate in the body over time (DeMatteo et al, 2012 & Trasande et al, 2012).

In the absence of regulation, it is completely up to us to minimize our exposure to plastic to help reduce our likely hood of experiencing any of the non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes) which now account for more deaths in the world than anything else (WHO).

Like you, I don’t believe that ingestion of chemicals from plastic via our food is the only cause of these diseases however, have you ever wondered, as I do, if there is a link between expansion of the chemical industries (including plastic) after World War II and how, seemingly simultaneously, these diseases became the leading cause of death (often, at a very young age).  

The chemicals industry includes plastic, of course, but also includes the agricultural chemicals such as herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, fertilisers and pharmaceutical products.  I find it extremely alarming that all these products (plastic, agricultural biocides and pharmaceuticals) are made by the same companies. 

Leaving me wondering, how these chemicals could have affected us so dramatically in such a short period of time?  The most recent research begins to explain how the extremely toxic chemicals that migrate from plastic into food causes epigenome reprogramming (Manikkam et al, 2015).  Unfortunately, the reprogramming is not an upgrade!  Instead, these chemicals are changing us and our children (Ferguson et al, 2014; Manikkam et al, 2015 & Srivastava & Godara, 2013).  Research has found absolute evidence of this in mice monitored for three generations from the initial female’s exposure, to BPA and Phthalates DEHP and DBP, during pregnancy (Manikkam et al, 2015).  Can you guess what the final phenotypic expression in the third generation was? …..it was obesity (Manikkam et al, 2015)!

Obesity is a global epidemic.  Is it a coincidence that the population of people experiencing obesity, heart disease, reproductive difficulties and diabetes is approximately the third generation since World War II? 

Once I began to understand what the current research on plastic is proving I knew it was both important and urgent to make our product available to as many people as possible.  Our wonderful local Win News supported us in getting our message out; the news clip travelled around Facebook, all over Australia and overseas. 

It is reassuring to me to know that so many people are ready and willing to move away from plastic to keep themselves, their families and their future generations healthy. 

It is well worth the effort because avoiding having plastic in contact with food measurably reduces the amount of reproductive and developmental toxic chemicals in the body (Colacino et al, 2010; Ferguson et al, 2014; Rudel et al, 2011; Sathyanarayana et al, 2013 & Yang et al, 2011). 

This makes a difference now and for future generations.

What are you waiting for?  Plastic will never be safe – order your Fresh Produce Enhancers now to keep your most nutritious & nourishing food away from plastic.

From Helen and the Greenleaf Bag Team.




Reference List

Avella, M., De Vlieger, J.J., Errico, M.E., Fischer, S., Vacca, P. & Volpe, M.G. (2005) Biodegradable Starch/Clay Nanocomposite Films for Food Packaging Applications, Food Chemistry, Vol 93, 467-474.

Buckley, J.P., Palmieri, R.T., Matuszewski, J.M., Herring, A.H., Baird, D.D., Hartmann, K.E. & Hoppin, J.A. (2012) Consumer Product Exposures Associated with Urinary Phthalate Levels in Pregnant Women, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, Vol 22 (5), 468-475.

Carwile, J.L., Ye, X., Zhour, X., Calafat, A.M. & Michels, K.B. (2011) Canned Soup Consumption and Urinary Bisphenol A: A Randomized Crossover Trial, JAMA, Vol 306 (20), 2218-2220.

Cirillo, T., Fasan, E., Castaldi, E., Montuori, P., Cocchieri, R.A. (2011) Children’s Exposure to Di (2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate and Dibutylphthalate Plasticizers from School Meals, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol 59, 10532-10538.

Christiansen, S., Scholze, M., Dalgaard, M., Vinggaard, A.M., Axelstad, M., Kortenkamp, A. & Hass, U. (2009) Synergistic Disruption of External Male Sex Organ Development by a Mixture of four Antiandrogens, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol 117 (12), 1839-

Colacino, J.A., Harris, T.R & Schecter, A. (2010) Dietary Intake is Associated with Phthalate Body Burden in a Nationally Representative Sample, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol 118 (7), 998-1003.

DeMatteo, R., Keith, M.M., Brophy, J.T., Wordsworth, A., Watterson, A.E., Beck, M., Ford, A.R., Gilbertson, M., Pharityal, J., Rootham, M. & Scott, D.N. (2012) Chemical Exposures of Women Workers in the Plastics Industry with Particular Reference to Breast Cancer and Reproductive Hazards, New Solutions, Vol 22 (4), 427-448.

Ferguson, K.K., McElrath, T.F. & Meeker, J.D. (2014) Environmental Phthalate Exposure and Preterm Birth, JAMA Pediatrics, Vol 168 (1), 61-67

Geueke, B., Wagner, C.C. & Muncke, J. (2014) Food Contact Substances and Chemicals of Concern: a Comparison of Inventories, Food Additives & Contanimants: Part A, Vol 31 (8), 1438-1450.

Kinch, C.D., Ibhazehiebo, K., Jeong, J., Habibi, H.R. & Kurrasch, D.M. (2015) Low-dose Exposure to Bisphenol A and Replacement Bisphenol S Induces Precocious Hypothalamic Neurogenesis in Embryonic Zebrafish, PNAS, Vol 112 (5), 1475-1480.

Manikkam, M., Tracey, R., Guerrero-Bosagna, C. & Skinner, M.K. (2013) Plastics Derived Endocrine Disruptors (BPA, DEHP and DBP) Induce Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Obesity, Reproductive Disease and Sperm Epimutations, Plos One, Vol 8 (1), e55387.

Muncke, J., Myers, J.P, Scheringer, M. & Porta, M. (2014) Food Packaging and Migration of Food Contact Materials:  will Epidemiologists Rise to the Neotoxic Challenge?, Journal Epidemiology & Community Health, Vol 68 (7), 592-594.

Rossi, M.S. & Blake, A. (2014) The Plastics Scorecard: Evaluating the Chemical Footprint of Plastics, www.cleanproduction.org.

Rudel, R.A., Gray, J.M., Engel, C.L., Rawsthorne, T.W., Dodson, R.E., Ackerman, J.M., Rizzo, J., Nudelman, J.L. & Brody, J.G. (2011) Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethyhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol 119 (7), 914-920

Sathyanarayana, S., Alcedo, G., Saelens, B.E., Zhou, C., Dills, R.L., Yu, J. & Lanphear, B. (2013) Unexpected Results in a Randomized Dietary Trial to Reduce Phthalate and Bisphenol A Exposures, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, Vol 23, 378-384. 

Shen, Q., Shi, H., Zhang, Y. & Cao, Y. (2015) Dietary Intake and Phthalates Body Burden in Boys and Girls, Archives of Public Health, Vol 73 (5).

Srivastava, R.K & Godara, S. (2013) Use of Polycarbonate Plastic Products and Human Health, International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, Vol 2 (1), 12-17.

Trasande, L., Attina, T.M. & Blustein, J. (2012) Association between Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration and Obesity Prevalence in Children and Adolescents, JAMA, Vol 308 (11), 1113-1121.

Vandenberg, L.N., Colborn, T., Hayes, T.B., Heindel, J.J., Jacobs, D.R., Lee, D.Jr., Shioda, T., Soto, A.M., vom Saal, F.S., Welshons, W.V., Zoeller. R.T. & Myers, J.P. (2012) Hormones and Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: low-dose effects and nonmonotonic dose responses, Endocrine Reviews, Vol 33 (3).

WHO, World Health Organisation, Global Health Observatory data: Noncommunicable diseases,  http://www.who.int/gho/ncd/en/

Yang, C.Z., Yaniger, S.I., Jordan, V.C., Klein, D.J. and Bittner, G.D. (2011) Most Plastic Products Release Estrogenic Chemicals: A Potential Health Problem that can be Solved, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol 119 (7), 989-996.