No causal link found in study linking phthalates levels to fast-food consumption – scaremongering must be avoided

Brussels, 22 April 2016 - The European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediaries (ECPI) would like to reassure consumers of the safety of all phthalates used in current applications in response to a report published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The article “Recent Fast Food Consumption and Bisphenol A and Phthalates Exposure Among the US Population in NHANES, 2003-2010” claims there is a link between fast food ingestion and the levels of two specific phthalate metabolites present in urine.

"Public health is a very sensitive issue. We must avoid scaremongering and jumping to conclusions when the available data is inconclusive or simply shows association, without any indication of a causative link” said ECPI’s spokesperson, Michela Mastrantonio.

“Phthalate exposure via food contact is negligibly low and does not represent a risk for human health. On the contrary, some plasticisers which are used in food contact materials bring major benefits in terms of safety and hygiene, protecting food from contamination and external agents which may adulterate it”, continued Mastrantonio. “Extremely low level of plasticisers can be found especially in fatty food, but their concentration is significantly lower than the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) – the acceptable levels set by regulatory agencies”.

The study published does indeed show very low exposure. Moreover, it must be noted that the researchers tested individuals’ dietary recall of foods ingested within a 24 hour period without previously measuring their actual levels of phthalates or confirming their presence in any of the ingested foods.

“In Europe, all chemical substances – including phthalates - are regulated by REACH , stringent EU Food Contact regulations as well as other legislations. The EU has the most stringent chemical regulations in the world which enables the safe use of all plasticisers in different applications”, concluded Mastrantonio.