Published On: Thu, Feb 20th, 2014

Plastics Packaging Is Safe”, Say BPF

“Plastics packaging is safe” said the British Plastic Federation (BPF) today in response to an article appearing in yesterday’s ‘The Guardian’ newspaper, ‘Chemicals leaching into food from packaging raise safety concerns’ (19th February 2014).

Plastics Packaging Is Safe", Say BPF

Plastics Packaging Is Safe", Say BPF

‘The Guardian article followed a familiar pattern’ said Philip Law, the BPF’s Director General Designate. ‘The article cited a paper from a learned journal warning of long term damage of exposure to synthetics and urging further research. It was an alarmist piece and once again the views on the industry were not solicited. A host of chemicals were conveniently swept up under the generic label of ”synthetics” with no consideration for their very different, individual profiles. There was no suggestion that some of the chemicals commonly regarded as ”synthetics” are actually naturally incurring. Strangely, no reference was made to the news that this week the European Commission had complete a review of two phthalates and concluded that they posed no risk to consumers.’

It is surely significant that we are unaware of any specific case of a human being’s health being impaired by exposure to chemicals from plastics used in any application, let alone packaging. That fact is that plastics used in food packaging are subject to a whole battery of EU and national regulations, including the EU Regulation on plastic materials and articles intended for contact with food and the immensely detailed REACH Regulation. On top of this, monitoring is carried out not only by the European Food Safety Authority but also by the UK Food Standards Agency.

Developments in plastic packaging and indeed other forms of packaging have been responsible for vast improvements in the food hygiene over the last 50 years. We are at a far cry from the days when flies had to be swatted away from exposed butter packs in corner shops. It was not uncommon before the days of durable and sealable packaging for rotting food, improperly packed, to cause worrying levels of fatality.

The plastics used in the packaging of food are often the same as those used in healthcare applications, including body parts which are in intimate and long-term contact with body tissues. Frequently public authorities state that plastics are the preferred materials of choice for such uses.

Not only is plastics packaging safe, public health benefits significantly from it.

For all media enquiries, BPF logos and images please contact Laura Hindley, Communications and Industrial Issues Executive on lhindley@bpf.co.uk or 0207 457 5043