Common Chemicals Found in Food Packaging

Today, consumers shouldn’t just be worried about added chemicals in their foods or drinks; rather, even the packaging that foods come in have chemicals that can potentially leak into the things we consume. Anything from plastic or cardboard to styrofoam or paper packaging can have chemicals in them that can be absorbed by the food products. Luckily, the FDA has imposed many state regulations to set safe standards for the type of packaging that can be used, reducing the amount and type of chemicals found in packaging. Regardless, however, it is important to be knowledgeable of what chemicals could be present.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is added to most linings of cans and plastic containers. This chemical has been shown to promote breast cancer if allowed into the body in substantial quantities. However, the FDA has placed many standards and regulations that have inhibited the amount of this chemical that can be added into any food packaging.  FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research has also shown that low doses, such as the ones promoted through FDA’s regulations, have negligible effects.


Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is most commonly used in the inner lining of popcorn bags and pizza boxes to prevent oil from seeping through the container. However, high heats can cause some particles to seep into the food. In some studies, higher doses of PFOA has been shown to increase the likelihood of acquiring testicular, thyroid, and kidney cancers. Luckily, the EPA has begun upholding regulations and requiring manufacturers to use as low doses as possible, often requiring companies to find suitable substitutes for the chemical.


Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a chemical found in many plastic water bottles. Under high heat, PET secretes metalloid called antimony, which has been see to cause stomach ulcers. PET itself, according to the FDA, is safe to be used. However, high heats can cause antimony secretions, which may cause chronic health issues if consumed in high enough quantities.

Anything Else?

There are a multitude of chemicals that are used in food packaging to ensure that the foods are kept fresh and to keep out bacteria. However, under certain conditions, these chemicals can leach into the foods and potentially harm our health. Luckily, the FDA has imposed many regulations on chemicals that are usd. Some chemicals have also been banned entirely from use and convinced manufacturers to utilize other harmless materials. Chemicals that are currently being used are also constantly tested to ensure significant leaching into foods does not occur. However, always ensure that packaging does not come in contact with extreme conditions such as heat, as this can lead to chemicals being leaked into our foods.

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