BPA in canned foodThis blog post addresses three toxic packaging contaminants–BPA, phenols, and phthalates–that migrate from packaging into food. It appears that a new study is released every other month associating these toxic chemicals with serious health consequences ranging from obesity in children, health disorders, and cancer.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) was the subject of a Harvard research study released at the end of last year noting that people who ate a daily serving of canned food for five days in a row showed more than a tenfold increase of bisphenol-A (BPA). (The New York Times carried an excellent summary of the study in a post titled, BPA Lurks in Canned Soups and Drinks, on their Well blog.)

BPA has been in the spotlight for a while now as it is commonly used to make plastics and has been been linked to a wide range of health disorders, including prostrate and breast cancer, because of its ability to mimic the hormone estrogen. Initially, several government agencies first evaluated BPA in infant milk bottles, then all plastic bottles, and finally the lining of cans. Canada was the first country to ban BPA from plastic bottles in 2010. And, recently Belgium voted to ban exposure to BPA for children under the age of three years.

The reason that canned food is now under scrutiny is because of the BPA in the linings plus Bisphenol-A Diglycidyl Ether (BADGE) which is used as an epoxy to help in the preservation of canned foods.

Our chromatography applications laboratory here in Sunnyvale, California, has developed several applications since the concerns over BPA have surfaced.

Here is a chromatogram showing the Recovery of Bisphenol-A Diglycidyl Ether (BADGE) and Related Impurities from Canned Tuna.

Application Note 474 (downloadable PDF) addresses the Determination of Bisphenol A in Infant Formula by Automated Sample Preparation and Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry.

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phenols in packagingPhenols are another packaging migrant that shows up in antiseptics, medical preparations, resins, plastics, cosmetics, health aids, and foods and beverages. A number of phenolic compounds are subject to regulation as air and water pollutants around the world. In the United States, 11 phenolic compounds are listed as priority pollutants by the US EPA, 5 are regulated as hazardous pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and 1 compound (pentachlorophenol) is regulated under the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation.

Application Note 191 (downloadable PDF) addresses the Determination of Phenols in Drinking and Bottled Mineral Waters Using On-Line Solid-Phase Extraction Followed by HPLC with UV Detection.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used primarily as softeners in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic production for a wide range of products—toys, footwear, cosmetics, perfume and pharmaceutical packaging. The concern with this particular group of chemicals is that they tend to evaporate into the air and leach into water and soil over time. Some phthalate compounds are classified as toxic to human reproductive systems and unborn children. Recently, a study released by the Children’s Environmental Health Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York reported an association between exposure to phthalates and obesity in children.

Recently, the California-based Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, said that it would no longer buy intravenous (IV) medical equipment made with PVC and phthalate-type plasticizers out of concern of the impact of these chemicals on the environment and human health. It spends USD $1 Billion annually on medical supplies.

Here is a downloadable PDF of a poster, titled, Extraction of Phthalates from Solid and Liquid Matrices, that describes the automatic extraction of phthalates with minimum amounts of solvent usage.

Tell us about your packaging migrant testing challenges. We look forward to hearing from you.