Consumer group calls for phase out of certain plastic food packaging

Posted by Isobel Drake on 11th January 2010

Consumer group Choice is calling on the Australian food industry to phase out the use of certain plastics in baby products and food packaging.

They have advised consumers to avoid PVC cling wrap, used for wrapping fresh meat and produce, and to consider cutting down on certain canned foods.

Choice contends that, although the risk is low, there’s growing evidence that food can be contaminated by the use of certain types of plastics and cans and says consumers should be aware there are alternatives available.

Polycarbonate, used to make food storage containers and bottles, some of which are for infants; and epoxy resins used to line cans, were listed as materials of particular concern.

Both of these polymers can release bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked with serious health issues, the consumer group said.

They added that the safety of PVC is also in doubt because of chemicals called plasticisers, which are added to make it flexible and soft.

“A wide variety of foods are packaged using PVC or polycarbonate, including some tinned food and fresh food such as meat in plastic wrapping. PVC is used to make the gaskets that seal glass jars used for foods such as pasta sauces. There are safer alternatives, which should be used instead,” Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn suggested. “While there is vigorous debate about the various risks Choice believes the evidence, while far from conclusive, can no longer be ignored.”

The consumer group said they had tested food in glass jars and found levels of plasticisers well above limits set by the European Union.