Know of food contact substances?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by ricardonest, Feb 3, 2012.

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  1. ricardonest Registered Senior Member

    I'm definitely guilty of this, but when I see a food packaged, the only thing I'm worried about at that time is whether the food is good enough to eat as in I'm hoping that it's not spoiled. However, there seems to be another thing people should be worried about and that is FCS (food contact substances).

    Apparently, the package your food comes in can transfer chemical substances to it. Not something you want to really know about and although companies say they monitor the amount of chemical being transferred where no one should get sick, it's still disturbing to find out that we're eating something we shouldn't be.

    So what's the solution to get around this? Nanomaterials. These can be used to help prevent food spoilage as well as be used as barrier for food packages.

    Good read on FCS and Nanomaterials, if anyone is interested:
    Would you like a side of chemicals with that? The health risks of food contact substances
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  3. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    Or package your food in classic materials like paper, glass, cloth, etc.
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  5. leopold Valued Senior Member

    this also applies to whatever you use to cook, store, prepare, or clean your food.
    yeah, like cast iron skillets.
    don't let your food touch anything.
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  7. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    If you read the labels on cereal, chips, and a number of foods that contain fat, you will often see the phrase BHT added to packaging to retain freshness.

    Studies have demonstrated that BHT migrates into the contents of the package also. This for now. I need to get some sleep but I'll dig up some more details later.

  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Typical Luddite alarmism. There is not one single number anywhere in that piece of crap that these people are trying to pass itself off as responsible journalism.

    Almost everything has the potential to cause harm. The important questions are: To what extent? and How harmful is the alternative?

    This is a classic example of American innumeracy. (Sorry, in this area your people are apparently just as clueless as my people.) They have zero intuition when it comes to numbers. They have absolutely no grasp of quantitative risk analysis, and, in my experience, don't even understand what those words mean.

    What is the magnitude of the difference in cancer rates between people who ingest BHA and those who don't? Has the study controlled for all other variables? I.e., don't compare Americans to, say, Pakistanis, because our diets and environment differ in a thousand ways.

    Food poisoning was a major risk in the old days. Virtually everyone in my parents' generation (the 1920s and 30s) knew of a church picnic in their town at which someone died, or came close to it, from eating homemade mayonnaise. You kids sneer at my generation's (the 1950s and 60s) advertising slogan, "Better living through chemistry," because you have no idea what life was like before chemistry.

    This is a place of science. Science deals in numbers. Please don't post alarmist material on this website that is utterly devoid of numbers.

    These are the same people who got us to spend trillions of dollars to mitigate the "threat" of terrorism, which kills three thousand Americans every decade (the same number as are killed by peanut allergies), yet they won't spend the few billion dollars it would cost to install breathalyzer interlocks in every car at the factory, in order to put an end to drunk driving, which kills more than one hundred thousand Americans in the same decade.

    Perhaps your article actually has some numerical analysis behind it, but you'll have to excuse me for being skeptical, because most of them don't. This is how Americans are manipulated into making stupid choices.
  9. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Thank you, Fraggle, for your anecdotal evidence.

    Are you ordering me to stand down as a moderator or is this just your personal opinion?

    I am far from being a child and in my opinion your 'quantitative risk analysis' is whatever number can be slipped past an ill informed public that is so manipulated by media and politics that they are no longer capable of critical thinking, never having been taught this skill in the education system.

    What the hey has 'terrorism' got to do with this topic? :bugeye: I call B.S. on YOU, sir, and suggest you come back with better numbers and considerations.

    I have been hanging out at this 'place of science' for a while now and as we all know, studies on a myriad of topics yield conflicting and confusing results. I urge anyone who is serious about their health to bear in mind that we have a food industry and a medical industry, and the bottom line in both is profit.

    I am curious about what criteria Europe uses in regard to their food industry and why they have considerably different regulations in regard to their food industry than do we.

    Do your own research, my suggestion, and consider the source of the funding behind all of the studies on the Generally Regarded As Safe additives in our food.
  10. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member


    I think your concerns are grounded in the ethic of protecting innocent consumers from predatory practices by food industries and even the companies that supply their material. I think they are grounded in data you have seen and in a logic that wants to err on the side of safety. I support all of that ethic, and I think most people do, in the purest sense. Other issues, like the reliability of all inferences from the data, or the aspect of hyperbole from the left or right, are real and unavoidable issues. But in the long run, ethics has to prevail.

    Long ago I did a research paper proposing mass spectrometry as a means of regulating chemical contamination of food and water. I entered the project merely with a simple technical perspective, and only a passing awareness of the problem. I was shocked by the huge volume of reports that had piled up in journals that I had never even heard of. In those days, the technical aspects were largely disseminated among a small community of specialists, and public reporting was nil. It stuck in my mind, and to this day I am skeptical that this issue will ever go away.

    Another related story that struck me was a report by a news commentator, that he had found fire retardant in his blood:
    Here's the link.

    The story mentions the CDC where they have this huge National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.

    I tried to wade through it but was overwhelmed. But really nasty stuff like dioxins and lead or mercury are in there along with pesticides, herbicides and these industrial substances like fire retardant. These are from people’s blood.

    Undoubtedly we get pollution from every possible source. One of those is obviously by eating. I don't doubt that nearly everything we eat has some sort of unwanted or even possibly harmful substance, even if only in trace quantities. After all, nature abhors a hermetic seal.

    I'm not sure what to make of this issue, and I admit that the data from CDC stumps me. It looks really bad, but people on average look really healthy. But so do most people, probably, at the moment they discover their cancer, or some other serious illness.

    I think it was that same uncertainty that gives rise to the OP. At best I can only echo my concerns and my doubts, and to support the ethics you voiced.
  11. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    A new research has assessed how easily a chemical travels from the lungs into the air versus how easily it dissolves in fats and water. It appeared that thousands of contaminants can build up in air-breathing animals, if not water-breathing ones.
    Many chemicals that dissolve relatively easy in water can persist in the air, accumulating "specifically in nonaquatic food webs: mammals, birds, human beings. In mammals and humans, we don't breathe water, we breathe air," said lead researcher Frank Gobas, an environmental toxicologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

    His team checked about 12,000 chemicals under review by the Canadian government to assess their environmental and health effects; about 30 % of them could be stored by air-breathing organisms.

    When it comes to the air we breathe, it's not just our lungs that are in danger. Air pollutants account for 35 of the 216 chemicals associated with increases in mammary gland tumors in animals. There is widespread exposure to many of these chemicals in the air we breathe outside, as well as in our offices, homes, restaurants and schools.

    Although that sounds scary, it's important to note that most of the air pollutants are from just a few sources: primary and secondhand tobacco smoke, diesel exhaust and specific occupational exposures.

    Chemicals related to breast cancer also make their way into lakes, streams and groundwater systems. Of particular concern are pesticides from agricultural and home use, dioxins and synthetic hormones that make their way down household drains.
  12. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    BIOASSAY OF BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUENE (BHT) FOR POSSIBLE CARCINOGENICITY, Carcinogenesis Testing Program, Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention National Cancer Institute National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20205, 1979:

    This is one of several early studies, and it notes findings of predecessor studies, such as whether the some other causes were at play.

    A list of more recent studies can be found at

    Click on any study, and you get a redacted conclusion. This site is anti-BHT, so they seem to have done a good job in finding empirical evidence against it.

    Setting all of this aside for a moment, there was something that gave me pause when I read the 1979 NIH report. The first plot given is remarkable:

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    Without engaging in the requisite analysis to explain this, or any polemic (e.g., weight loss benefit vs disease), it struck me that there are sufficient questions to continue to press for answers, with or without hyperbole.
  13. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Thank you Aqueous Id and Cosmic for the broader perspective and links you have added. I shall review them at greater length shortly.

    Just got home and the weather is far nicer than had been forecast so I am off to take advantage of it.

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    Thanks for doing some of my 'homework assignment'.

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  14. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Research is a scary thing at times.

    Do you recall olestra, a fat substitute that the body apparently cannot digest well, which would allow you to eat that whole bag of chips and not have to worry about the calories?

    In Canada, it didn't last long because of considerable side effects and discomfort experienced by many who tried the product.

    Here it is raising it's ugly head once again.

    More at this link:

    My point in raising this topic is that while it may not relate directly to food contact substances as relates to containment, it does demonstrate just how the certification of GRAS is obtained and how little the public is mandated to be kept informed.

    Proctor and Gamble supplies a lot of product to our Canadian corporate stores and I truly question if the labeling laws, even in Canada, require the listing of all GRAS ingredients.

    Interesting that a product that failed the public confidence once before is being quietly reintroduced by this means and it has potential to reach a lot of uniformed consumers.

    I have very little confidence in these reassurances and guidelines based on my personal experience with government agencies and processes at the local level. :bugeye:
  15. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    At our store, our deli staff turns out excellent BBQ Chickens, seasoned without using MSG.

    From time to time I grab one to facilitate meal planning when I am working nights.

    My only concern is the plastic tray and dome sets they are packaged in while they stand under the heat lamp until purchased.

    For this reason, I will only buy a chicken in the morning when I get off shift, knowing that they have been under the heat for the least possible time, hoping to thereby minimize the effects of any chemicals that may have migrated from the container to the food.

    Purely subjective on my part, I concede. :bugeye:
  16. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    It is very problematical for persons who wish to avoid the potential of their food coming into contact with substances which may be transferred from the packaging.

    All meat in our store is wrapped with plastic of one form or another, much of it on styrofoam display trays with a moisture barrier 'napkin' under the product to catch any liquids and while some of the milk is sold in waxed cardboard, most of the milk and yogurt products are sold in plastic jugs and tubs.

    Many of the fresh veggies are sold in plastic sleeves as are many of the fruits, with berries and small fruits packaged in plastic clamshells and baskets.

    Still, our greatest exposure to substances would seem to be from processed packaged food as per the following study results.

  17. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

  18. river Valued Senior Member

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