International research found that glass and ceramic packaging was the safest for food contact materials.

Research, published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition*, found that nearly 3000 chemicals can potentially leak from packaging into food, making human exposure to these chemicals highly probable.

The study stated that of the 2881 Food Contact Chemicals (FCCs) detected, only 47 were detected in the glass & ceramic food contact materials (FCMs).

Meanwhile, more than two thirds (1975) were identified in plastic FCMs, followed by paper & board (887).

Source: Geueke et al published in Food Science and Nutrition.

“The study shows that glass is safest among the packaging materials as it has virtually no detected chemicals and therefore is the safest for human health,” said Adeline Farrelly, Secretary General of FEVE the EU federation of container glass producers.

The majority of the FFCs (65%) found were unknown; they had not been recorded in any regulatory or industry list to date.

“There is a considerable knowledge gap to fill on food contact legislation," continued Ms Farrelly. "Life Cycle Assessment methodologies on packaging must and should take into account chemicals, including hazardous chemicals, used in food contact packaging materials that can potentially also leak into the environment."

Nick Kirk, Technical Director at British Glass, added: "It’s becoming clear that the food & drink industry needs to address the risks that using plastic has on our health and move to using safer materials such as glass going forward.

"The UK glass industry is happy to share its expertise and support those looking to make this transition from plastic to glass, in order to protect consumers from chemicals leaching from the packaging material into their food and drink.”

*For full paper, see here.