Food packaging harbours harmful toxins

Updated: Mar 31, 2011, 12:56 PM IST

Washington: A new study has confirmed that plastic wrappers, food cans and storage tubs deposit at least two potentially harmful chemicals into our food.

By cutting out containers, people can dramatically reduce their exposures to these toxins.

The chemicals -- bisphenol A, or BPA, and a phthalate called DEHP -- are known to disrupt hormonal systems in the bodies of both animals and people, leading to developmental and reproductive problems, as well as cancers, heart disease and brain disorders. And both appear in a wide variety of food packaging materials.

But when people in the new study avoided plastic and ate mostly fresh foods for just three days, the levels of these chemicals in their bodies dropped by more than 50 percent, and sometimes much more.

"What this says is that food packaging is really the major source of exposure to BPA and DEHP," Discovery News quoted Ruthann Rudel, a toxicologist at the Silent Spring Institute, a research and advocacy group in Newton, Mass, as saying.

"The good news is that we provide some evidence that people can make everyday decisions about their kitchens and their diets if they want to reduce exposure to these compounds," added Rudel.

These chemicals appear in a huge range of consumer products. DVDs, eyeglasses and cash-register receipts may contain BPA.

The study has been reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.