Endocrine disrupting chemicals and other substances of concern in food contact materials: an updated review of exposure, effect and risk assessment

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Oct;127(1-2):118-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2010.10.004. Epub 2010 Nov 10.


Food contact materials (FCM) are an underestimated source of chemical food contaminants and a potentially relevant route of human exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Quantifying the exposure of the general population to substances from FCM relies on estimates of food consumption and leaching into food. Recent studies using polycarbonate plastics show that food simulants do not always predict worst-case leaching of bisphenol A, a common FCM substance. Also, exposure of children to FCM substances is not always realistically predicted using the common conventions and thus possibly misjudged. Further, the exposure of the whole population to substances leaching into dry foods is underestimated. Consumers are exposed to low levels of substances from FCM across their entire lives. Effects of these compounds currently are assessed with a focus on mutagenicity and genotoxicity. This approach however neglects integrating recent new toxicological findings, like endocrine disruption, mixture toxicity, and developmental toxicity. According to these new toxicology paradigms women of childbearing age and during pregnancy are a new sensitive population group requiring more attention. Furthermore, in overweight and obese persons a change in the metabolism of xenobiotics is observed, possibly implying that this group of consumers is insufficiently protected by current risk assessment practice. Innovations in FCM risk assessment should therefore include routine testing for EDCs and an assessment of the whole migrate toxicity of a food packaging, taking into account all sensitive population groups. In this article I focus on recent issues of interest concerning either exposure to or effects of FCM-related substances. Further, I review the use of benzophenones and organotins, two groups of known or suspected EDCs, in FCM authorized in the US and EU.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Benzophenones / analysis
  • Benzophenones / toxicity
  • Endocrine Disruptors / analysis*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Food Packaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Organotin Compounds / analysis
  • Organotin Compounds / toxicity
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phenols / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Benzophenones
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Organotin Compounds
  • Phenols
  • bisphenol A