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Toxic BPA-like chemicals in food labels found in fresh produce
THE Canadian government has taken steps to reduce the use of Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical linked to prostate and breast cancer, commonly found in plastics, the lining of food cans, water bottles, and paper receipts. But in many cases, it has been replaced with similar hormone disrupting chemicals, like Bisphenol S (BPS).
“BPA is a chemical that can interfere with hormones in the human body and cause adverse health outcomes, including cancers, diabetes, and damage to fertility and the development of infants. Now there is growing evidence that BPS may have similar health effects,” said Stéphane Bayen, an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry.
The researchers examined an assortment of packaged fresh food sold in Canada such as meats, cheeses, vegetables, and bakery products.
They also compared fish bought from stores in Canada and the United States, and the differences between food wrapped with plastic cling wrap films with or without food labels. They found relatively high concentrations of BPS in thermal food labels, like price tags and stickers, where heat is used to print barcodes or unit prices. In contrast, they found little to no BPS in plastic wrapper films, pads, and trays.
While Canada does not currently regulate BPS, the researchers show that the amount of BPS found in the foods studied significantly exceeded the European Union limit, which regulates the permitted amount of substances released from packaging materials in contact with food.
“Considering the number of packaged food items sold with thermal labels, the actual dietary intake of BPS and other chemicals is likely to be high,” said Bayen. The study suggests a more thorough risk assessment of BPS and its ability to migrate into food from packaging is needed to help develop regulatory guidelines in the food sector. (McGill University)