Are consumers being put at risk when eating food that has been wrapped in cling film?
Not at all. In fact, PVC packaging film is a major contributor to food safety, protecting the food from micro-organisms that breed when food is left uncovered. PVC cling film has been used for over 25 years in Europe. Over this period it has become one of the safest and most widely used materials for wrapping food for professional and private purposes.
Isn’t it true that plasticisers, used for PVC cling film production, are absorbed by the wrapped food?
Over the years, a considerable amount of research has been carried out to determine the degree of migration from PVC cling film into food. Even if constituents of the PVC cling film are transferred into the food – as is the case for most packaging materials - these quantities are extremely limited and strictly legislated. Migration limits are now set very strictly and are considered to be totally safe by health authorities.
Tests conducted in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands show that the average DEHA intake (the most widely used plasticiser) was 6 to 20 times below the limits proposed by the EU Scientific Committee for Food, the latter already including large margins of safety.
Toxicologists and legislative authorities across Europe therefore agree that plasticisers used in food packaging pose no danger to public health or the environment.
What are polymeric plasticisers?
Polyesters that have a higher molecular weight than DEHA and therefore have a much lower rate of migration than DEHA.
Why aren’t phthalates in general used for PVC cling film production?
Because DEHA allows cling film to remain flexible at much lower temperatures. It also gives the necessary permeability to oxygen and water vapour, required to preserve the freshness of food. For this reason phthalate plasticisers like DOP, DINP and DIDP are not generally used in the manufacture of food cling film.
Are there any applications for which the use cling film plasticised with DEHA is not suitable and if so, what should be used instead?
In Europe there are very strict regulations governing the quantity of additives that are allowed to migrate into foodstuffs. Therefore manufacturers produce a whole range of cling films each for a specific application (cling film for meat, cling film for cheese etc.). All cling films must comply with strict EU scientifically based migration limits. When DEHA is used in these films, it will be used in conjunction with other plasticisers and the proportion varies according to the destined use of the film.
How will consumers know which film to use for which type of food?
Cling film producers mark their products with a clear indication as to how they should be used.
Can cling film be used in microwave ovens?
You will find specific types of cling film on the market that can be used in microwave ovens and these are clearly marked as such. Besides microwave films, there are also films on the market specifically designed for storing frozen food.
Can cling film be used in conventional ovens?
Cling film cannot be used in conventional ovens. The high temperatures of conventional ovens can cause the film to melt. The fact that cling film may not be used in conventional ovens is clearly marked on the packaging.
Is it true that fatty foods, such as cheese or those containing olive oil, should not be wrapped in cling film?
No. There are special cling films available that can be used to wrap fatty foods.
Didn’t the UK government give a warning that cling-film should not be used to wrap high fat foods?
Yes. In 1990 the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) issued an Advisory to this effect.
However, in 1995, the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) gave safety clearance to both DEHA and epoxidised soya bean oil (ESBO). The Food Advisory Committee recognized that the clearance of these substances meant that there were cling films available, which could be used to wrap fatty foods? The 1990 Advisory was therefore revised.
Some claim that DEHA is an endocrine disrupter. Is this statement true?
There is no validated scientific evidence to suggest that DEHA is an endocrine disrupter.