Report Exposes Hidden Dangers of Legally Used Food Packaging Chemicals

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

(Oakland, California. Sept 7). Environmental group Clean Water Action is calling for California lawmakers to act against the hidden dangers of toxics in food packaging, with thousands of unregulated chemicals contaminating food every day.

The report, entitled, “What’s In The Package? The Toxic Secrets of Food and Beverage Packaging” exposes the hidden dangers of chemicals that leach from packaging into food, and how the American regulatory system fails to protect the public from such threats.

From milk to cereal, canned soups, to packaged meat and cheese, common packaging items are exposing the public to increased risk of cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, and cardiac problems.

Low income communities of color are particularly exposed to increased toxic risk from packaging, says the report, being more inclined to live in areas with less access to fresh produce. In addition, chemicals leach into the environment and drinking water once the packaging is discarded. 

Perfluorinated chemicals linked to cancer and endocrine disruption have been detected in the drinking water of six million Americans, and plasticizing chemicals like BPA have been linked to feminization and other reproductive failure in wildlife.

Federal regulators understand the issue, yet turn a blind eye. Faced with inaction at the Federal level, Clean Water Action is calling on state legislators to protect the public by requiring packaging chemicals to be put on the label along with other ingredient information

Andria Ventura, Clean Water Action’s Toxics Program Manager said: “An estimated 4,800 chemicals are used in food packaging in the U.S. and there is little to no government oversight as to the threats they pose to people exposed on a daily basis. It’s time to change the law.”

“Under the current regulatory system, companies get to decide that the chemicals they use are safe, and they don’t have to tell the public what substances they are using, by claiming trade secrets.”

"Consumers have the right to know what they are buying and what they and their environment is being exposed to. Putting these chemical additives on the label will not only give consumers the ability to make the safest choices available to them, but transparency can drive companies to find safer packaging materials in order to avoid disclosing that there are toxic ingredients in their products.”

Notes to editors:

The full report is available at

Matt Davis, California Communications Director, Clean Water Action
+1 (415) 369 9160 extension 343