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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(7):529-35.

Food contamination with organic materials in perspective: packaging materials as the largest and least controlled source? A view focusing on the European situation.

Author information

  • 1Official Food Control Authority of Canton of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. konrad.grob@klzh.ch


The comparison of the various sources of food contamination with organic chemicals suggests that in the public, but also among experts, the perception of risk is often distorted. Firstly, neither pesticides nor environmental pollutants contribute the most; the amount of material migrating from food packaging into food may well be 100 times higher. Secondly, control of these large migrants is often lagging behind the standards set up for other sources, since many of the components (particularly those not being "starting materials") have not been identified and, thus, not toxicologically evaluated. Finally, attitudes towards different types of food contaminants are divergent, also reflected by the legal measures: for most sources of food contamination there are strict rules calling for minimization, whereas the European packaging industry has even requested a further increase in the tolerance to as close as possible to the limit set by the toxicologists. This paper calls for a more realistic perception and more coherent legal measures-and improvements in the control of migration from packaging material.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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