The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today denied petitions submitted by health and environmental advocates in 2016 to ban phthalates from food packaging and food production equipment. Studies show that these toxic petrochemicals leach into food and drinks, causing serious harm to human health. Today’s decision allows for phthalate contamination of food and drinks — ranging from infant formula to meat, milk, spices, and cooking oils — to continue, despite the fact that Congress determined more than a decade ago that several of these chemicals are too dangerous to use in children’s toys. At the same time, FDA acknowledged that its safety assessment for food-contact uses of phthalates is out of date and requested new information from the public.
Phthalates interfere with hormone-regulated processes in the body and are linked to a range of health harms including birth defects, infertility, miscarriage, breast cancer, diabetes, and asthma. Phthalates also harm the developing brain, leading to reduced IQ and attention and behavior disorders in children. Babies and young children are most vulnerable to harm from phthalates and suffer the greatest exposure. People of color in all age groups, as well as economically insecure people, also face higher risks of serious health problems from exposure to phthalates compared to the general population. Safer substitutes for these chemicals are readily available.
Earth Justice, 19-05-22