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  • Press Release

High Phthalates Panel Debunks Myths of DINP and DIDP in Plastic Food Wraps

Allison Edwards

WASHINGTON (October 27, 2021) – The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) High Phthalates Panel issued the following statement in response to reports that fast-food items contain “phthalates” linked to health problems.

“There is a growing myth about consumer exposure to phthalates through food packaging. According to the myth, phthalates are present in consumer diets due to exposure from plastic food wraps and containers, potentially causing adverse health effects. In reality, phthalates are rarely, if ever, used in materials such as food wrappers and food packaging as has inaccurately been stated in some reporting.

“Most plastic food packaging and storage items are made with other types of plastics and do not require softening agents such as phthalates. Moreover, food packaging is reviewed for safety by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This stringent safety review is done before new materials are allowed on the market.  FDA’s review of plastics for food-contact use specifically considers migration before making its safety determination.

“It is also important to understand that not all phthalates are the same. The term “phthalates” simply refers to a family of chemicals that happen to be structurally similar, but which are functionally and toxicologically distinct from each other. This distinction is critical yet often missed in news outlets that cover these complex and extensive chemical families. It is critical to take into account the significant differences among compounds that are part of a chemical family. Not making this distinction and only broadly using the term “phthalate,” misleads the public to believe all phthalates are harmful to human health.

“In reality, high-molecular weight (HMW) phthalates such as DINP and DIDP have developed a very strong safety profile during the 50 years in which they have been in use. In December 2019, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released an updated food safety assessment of phthalates (including DINP and DIDP) used in food contact materials in the European Union. Responding to the question of whether any of these phthalates pose a safety concern, EFSA concluded “current exposure to these five phthalates from food is not a concern for public health.”  As a result, DINP and DIDP continue to be permitted for use in food contact applications in the European Union.”

“Other regulatory agencies that have confirmed the safety of DINP and DIDP in food contact applications include the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA).

“While we are encouraged by continuous research efforts into the science and health of phthalates, we are concerned about the over-interpretation of studies that have not established a causal link between HMW phthalates and human adverse health effects. These reports fail to consider all phthalates individually and consistently ignore or downplay the existence of science-based, authoritative conclusions regarding the safety of HMW phthalates as they are currently used.”

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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