CHEM Trust: New survey highlights consumer concerns over chemicals in food packaging

Today, BEUC – the European Consumer Organisation – published the results of a survey investigating consumer’s attitudes towards food packaging, and exploring their experiences, behaviours, and awareness of food packaging -related health risks. The results show that most of the consumers surveyed are worried about the impact of chemicals presents in food packaging and kitchenware on their health.

BEUC members surveyed consumers across 11 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain) during October 2022.

The survey found that most consumers (70% of those surveyed) are worried about the impact of chemicals in food packaging and kitchenware on their health. And 9 out of 10 support stricter rules to prevent health impacts from chemicals in food packaging.

Consumers are generally aware that some food packaging or containers can release chemicals into food. However, 50% of those surveyed continue to use food containers and kitchenware after they are worn or damaged, which can increase the risks of chemicals leaching into food.

BEUC highlights that while the EU requires food containers and packaging to be safe under normal or foreseeable conditions of use, the producer’s intended use may not correspond to how consumers use them in practice. For example, 1 in 5 consumers report reusing single-use packaging in ways that could increase their exposure to chemicals.

BEUC calls for the EU to adopt a preventative approach to chemicals present in food packaging and kitchenware, in line with the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and consumer expectations. They add that this should include a default ban on all chemicals of high concern, such as those that may cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. They also call for producers to be required to ensure that chemicals released from their packaging and kitchenware are kept to a strict minimum.

CHEM Trust is calling on the EU authorities to protect their citizens from harmful chemicals by introducing robust legislation to phase out the most harmful chemicals from consumer products by 2030, including in food contact materials. We have worked with NGO partners to call for action on harmful chemicals in food contact materials for several years. Learn more on our Toxic Free Food Packaging website.