The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made the decision that phthalates can still be used in products, despite campaigners claiming they are toxic and dangerous.
Phthalates are commonly used in fast-food packaging and food handling products like plastic gloves. However, environmental organizations and scientists have been trying to get the chemicals banned for years as they could pose a risk to consumers.
Following three petitions requesting that phthalates are banned or restricted for health and safety reasons, the FDA made its decision to allow their use to continue. This decision has been deeply unpopular with advocates, who pointed out the risks of harm and disease.
In particular, they claim the use of phthalates in food packaging is concerning, as some fast-food restaurants partially cook products in advance, which means some food is left sitting out in the packaging for long periods of time.
Going forward, what are the FDA’s plans for phthalates?
In a statement, the FDA said that, despite not taking immediate action, it does plan to continue collecting and analyzing data on the safety of phthalates in food packaging.
It also said that it’s aware of the concerns over the health effects of being exposed to high levels of phthalates, but at the moment, there’s not enough evidence exposure through food packaging poses a safety risk to consumers.
The agency said: “The FDA is generally aware of updated toxicology and uses the information on phthalates that is publicly available. Nevertheless, stakeholders may have access to information that is not always made public. We may use this information to update the dietary exposure estimates and safety assessments for the permitted food contact uses of phthalates.”
The FDA continued to explain that it is currently seeking scientific data and information on the specific current food contact uses, use levels, dietary exposure, and safety data on the small number of phthalates that are authorized for use in the food industry.