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Chemicals Used in Food Packaging and Their Impact on Human Health

In the recent days, the synthetic chemicals that are being used in the food, processed and manufactured are injurious to human health. The synthetic chemicals that are consumed by humans are not inert and get directly into the human body. In most cases, the FMC products are plastic products that are used in food packaging. For instance, foods in glass jars are contaminated with harmful chemical substances. According to Shahidi and Priyatharini (2015), the chemical such as lipid oxidation is a primary cause of deteriorating the food quality and thus harmful to human health. The thesis paper elucidates on the usage of chemicals in food packaging and its impact on human health. The thesis of the following essay is that substances and chemicals that are used in the packaging of foods are harmful to human health and causes severe health hazards.

In order to prevent bacterial contamination and to keep the food fresh, packaging of food plays a major role. However, many experts and doctors warned against using packaged foods as it can infect the food and can have significant health issues. As observed by the authors, Shahidi, Fereidoon and Priyatharini (2015), the lipid oxidation that is used in the packaged food has many side effects such as it reduces the nourishment of the food, reduces colour, flavour and textures and more importantly serious to human health. Addition of antioxidants in food packaging has become essential, mainly because of their low cost, no odour and taste. As per the authors, the main products of antioxidants are the hydro peroxides, though it does not alter the taste of the food is packaged, it has adverse effects on health. For instance, phenolic antioxidants in food packaging greatly affect human health. In average human intake, phenolic oxidants are 1gm per day, through different food sources such as fruits, vegetables, beverages and more, and this led to cancer. An intoxication of antioxidants causes nerve issues such as neoplasia and neurodegenerative, and chemicals that leak into food products can cause lifelong exposure to human. As per the World Health Organization, it has been stated that packaged food is the main reason for increasing obesity issues in the world (Azeredo et al.). As per the report, the number of chemicals used in food packaging is more than three thousand as stated by the Food and Drug Administration. In order to make food long lasting and to stay fresh for longer time, foods are being packaged by giving high radiation doses. For instance, in vegetables, the radiation provides in food from 5000 to 1 million radiations (Fabra et al.).

Alternatives to Conventional Food Packaging Materials

 As per the authors, Cristina, Margarita and Daniel (2016), it has been stated that fertilizers and pesticides are the leading cause of food contamination that is harmful to the humans. Pesticides when residues in fruits and vegetables and are packaged accordingly have adverse effects on human health that results in many harmful diseases. It has also been found that certain organic chlorine pesticides for example metabolites are present in fatty food products to make it appealing and delicious to consumers. During covering of foods, when sanitizers are used in the cleaning of food products, in most cases chemicals are left behind in the processed fruits and vegetables. In the present days, microwave heating is also a significant factor that results in reducing the food safety and quality of the products. For instance, food is heated in the microwave in plastic materials, and during the time of heating the chemicals from the plastics such as plasticisers, stabilisers get transferred into the food, hence makes it of low quality food. As per the observable fact, migration of chemicals from packaging materials to the food can have a severe health risk to the people who consume such products. In case of food packed in metallic cans, the food gets contaminated with metal ions such as tin and iron that makes the food contaminated and unsafe. In the US, food packed in wrappers such as sandwiches and other fast food contains a large number of fluorinated chemicals. As per the data, twenty percent of the paperboard food packaging contains fluorinated compounds (Duah and Kofi). Besides, Bisphenol-A is polycarbonate plastic, that is widely being used in food packaging materials and report conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Survey, stated that ninety-three percent of the Americans are exposed to this harmful chemical (Augustin et al.).

Although there have been some articles that have stated, to keep the food fresh and free from external contaminants, food should be packaged. Food needs to be packaged with the help of bio-based nano-cellulose materials that will be less polluted and biodegradable (Azeredo et al.). As per the report, the use of biodegradable polymers in food packaging has increased from 0.4 to 13 billion pounds from the year 2006 to 2013 (Galloway and Tamara). Many critics have also stated that the uses of polymers in food packaging keep the food free and safe from harmful chemicals. Crystalline nanocellulose (CNC) can also be used in food packaging in order to expand the shell life of the food and not to alter the quality of the food. According to Fenyvesi, Vikom and Szente (2016), cyclodextrins chemicals are used in food packaging because of its major features such as tasteless and odourless, that does not alter the taste of the food. The use of cyclodextrin chemicals in food packaging though helps in killing the microorganisms but destroys the food products. During the time of packaging process, to keep the food safe and free from harmful chemicals, antimicrobial agents are implemented in to food products. In most of the cases, the active food wrapping systems include compounds such as oxygen, ethylene and some antioxidants.

Conclusions

However, people who opt for packaged food are chronically exposed to severe health issues. It has also been stated that the chemical formaldehyde, which is the main cause of cancer is used in food packaging and this is one of the commonly used substances in the packaging of food (Razman et al.). Though food packaging industries are taking measures to provide better quality and safe food to the consumers, still there are some amounts of chemicals present during packaging. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), considered glass as a protected packaging substance, but it has been proved that many class containers that are used in the case of food packing contains lead and are harmful to human health (Razman et al.). The high intoxication of lead can lead to severe side effects such as kidney failure, food poisoning, and liver damage. Another packaging material known as polyolefins used in the packing of juices and milk, causes severe issues related to the female reproductive system. Hence, it could be stated that the use of chemicals in food packaging is harmful to human health that leads to severe side effects. Accordingly, the Food and Drug Administration of US had put certain restrictions on food packaging industries to provide high quality food (Rochester, Johanna and Bolden).

As per the above thesis statement, it can be deduced that though many bio-degradable substances are used in food packaging, still it is harmful to the human health. Artificial chemicals in food packaging can be used as better food preservatives but pose serious health issues, when the chemicals are being intoxicated into the human body. In the modern days, it is rarely possible for consumers to avoid packaged foods, but to stay healthy; it is beneficial to avoid packaged foods. Though many critics have argued regarding the advantages of processed and packaged food and provided specific alternatives for delivering safe food products such as the use of crystalline nanocellulose and cyclodextrins, yet there are chemicals present in those substances. Hence, it could be concluded that substances such as polymers, glass, paper boards and other substances that are used in food packaging are harmful to human health.

References

Asante-Duah, Kofi. Public health risk assessment for human exposure to chemicals. Vol. 27. Springer, 2017.

Azeredo, Henriette MC, Morsyleide F. Rosa, and Luiz Henrique C. Mattoso. "Nanocellulose in bio-based food packaging applications." Industrial Crops and Products 97 (2017): 664-671.

Augustin, Mary Ann, et al. "Role of food processing in food and nutrition security." Trends in Food Science & Technology56 (2016): 115-125.

Fabra, María José, Amparo López-Rubio, and Jose M. Lagaron. "Use of the electrohydrodynamic process to develop active/bioactive bilayer films for food packaging applications." Food Hydrocolloids 55 (2016): 11-18.

Fenyvesi, E., M. A. Vikmon, and L. Szente. "Cyclodextrins in food technology and human nutrition: benefits and limitations." Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 56.12 (2016): 1981-2004.

Galloway, Tamara S. "Micro-and nano-plastics and human health." Marine anthropogenic litter. Springer, Cham, 2015. 343-366.

Nerín, Cristina, Margarita Aznar, and Daniel Carrizo. "Food contamination during food process." Trends in Food Science & Technology 48 (2016): 63-68.

Razman, Muhammad Rizal, et al. "A study on packaged food safety in kajang municipal council towards food and environmental sustainability." International Information Institute (Tokyo). Information 18.2 (2015): 521.

Rochester, Johanna R., and Ashley L. Bolden. "Bisphenol S and F: a systematic review and comparison of the hormonal activity of bisphenol A substitutes." Environmental health perspectives 123.7 (2015): 643.

Shahidi, Fereidoon, and Priyatharini Ambigaipalan. "Phenolics and polyphenolics in foods, beverages and spices: Antioxidant activity and health effects–A review." Journal of functional foods 18 (2015): 820-897.

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