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FDA Asked to Prohibit Certain Chemicals in Food Packaging Uses

Monday, October 20, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Nine public health advocacy organizations sent separate petitions to the Food and Drug Administration Oct. 16 seeking bans on the use of certain chemicals in food packaging applications.

Perchlorate. One petition requests that the FDA (a) revoke its allowance of as much as 1.2 percent sodium perchlorate monohydrate in dry food packaging, (b) issue a new food additive regulation prohibiting the use of perchlorate as a conductivity enhancer in the manufacture of anti-static agents to be used in food contact articles, and (c) remove potassium perchlorate as an allowed additive in sealing gaskets for food containers. The petitioners cite the “well-recognized toxicity of perchlorate” and its “widespread presence in food and in the bodies of virtually all Americans.” They also note that while the FDA’s approval “considered only exposure from final product packaging delivered to consumers, it was so broadly written that it can be – and is – used to allow perchlorate in bulk packaging of any dry food ingredient used in food manufacturing.”

Long-chain Perfluorocarboxylates. The petitioners state that in 2011 three companies agreed to an “unprecedented” FDA request, which was based on concerns about the carcinogenicity of these substances, to cease their sale and distribution of these substances in the U.S. Nevertheless, three classes of long-chain chemicals that are likely to be converted to perfluorocarboxylates may still be used in pizza boxes, sandwich wrappers and other food packaging without knowledge by the FDA or the public. The petitioners note that while the shutdown of domestic production of these chemicals has minimized their use and most food product manufacturers may no longer rely on them, new overseas production in China and India could easily fill the void without the FDA’s knowledge. The petition therefore asks the FDA to revoke “the approvals it granted decades ago” for three specified classes of long-chain perfluorocarboxylates, which would require any company seeking to use them to notify the FDA before commencing such use.

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