quizzed on plastic food racks over decabromodiphenyl ether health fears
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/On-your-radar/Contamination/Supermarkets-quizzed-on-plastic-food-racks-over-decabromodiphenyl-ether-health-fears
By Rory Harrington, 07-Aug-2009
An environmental group has urged
dozens of major US supermarket chains to stop using plastic storage racks
on concerns they may contain a toxic chemical that could leach into food.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) said it believes the plastic
storage frames contain decabromodiphenyl
ether (Deca), which the organisation says poses a health threat.
Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway were among more than 30 top retailers sent a
letter asking whether they use the plastic racks to hold food and, if so,
calling on them to suspend the practice.
The action is part of a campaign by the green body to highlight what
it considers to be the hazards posed by Deca, which is used as a flame
retardant on plastic pallets used to transport food and other goods. The
group claimed there was “growing concern” over use of the chemical
in plastic pallets and racks. The EWG said it believed use of plastic
pallets to transport food was widespread and, if true, created “a
significant opportunity for food contamination with Deca”. The chemical
is toxic and is suspected of being carcinogenic, it said.
In June, the EWG wrote to the US Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) asking that use of Deca be banned over
fears the chemical could leach into food during the process known as
hydro-cooling. This involves submerging stacked pallets filled with fruits
or vegetables in water or by dripping water over the pallets.
Plea to supermarkets
In its letter to supermarkets and grocers earlier this week the body
re-iterated those worries.
“Preliminary studies strongly suggest that Deca leaches from
pallets into the cooling water,” said the EWG letter to top supermarket
executives. “Because water is recycled numerous times during the
hydro-cooling process, considerable levels of Deca residue could be left on
It continued: “We are writing to ask that you determine whether
or not you or your suppliers are currently using plastic pallets, and if
so, we urge you to immediately stop the use of these pallets by you or your
suppliers until proper FDA approvals are received.”
However, plastic pallet producer Intelligent Global Pooling Systems
(iGPS) has rejected the EWG's allegations, saying its product is entirely
safe and that no leaching occurs. The company said its pallets have been
authorised for transportation use and it challenged claims that Deca was a
Last month, the FDA told FoodProductionDaily.com that it was giving
the EWG’s concerns “careful consideration”.
“If Deca is being used in food contact material and it is
migrating to food as a result, then it would be a food additive requiring
pre-market approval from FDA. No pre-market approval exists for Deca in
food contact materials,” FDA spokesman Sebastian Cianci said.