Plastic packaging and its effect on food
It has long been debated whether the effect of plastic packaging is significant enough to cause health issues in humans. Last year the Environmental Health Perspectives journal published a study, which showed a two-thirds decline in the levels of BPA in the urine samples of the observed people after they were on a three-day diet of food that hadn't been in contact with plastic.
It seems like it has been long confirmed that plastic packaging is one of the sources of potentially harmful chemicals, which we store in our bodies. However, most of the currently used packaging has been approved for usage by the appropriate authorities since the levels of chemicals do not exceed the imposed cut offs. It is a argued by the research groups nowadays that FDA standards regarding the safety of plastic packaging needs to be reconsidered for two reasons. One being that lots of packaging materials were approved for use decades ago when only physical effects of chemicals were taken into consideration. Now that science if moving forward in leaps and bounds it has been confirmed that many chemicals affect us on hormonal level, which was hard to study before. Another reason to reconsider the current packaging standards is the so-called cumulative exposure. Chemicals in plastic packaging have been previously assessed on an individual basis, however it is now argued that we do not know how different chemicals will behave when ingested separately in very small doses and start acting on certain organ systems or tissues as if they were a single cumulative dose.
The various chemicals found in trace amounts in plastic packaging have been linked to male reproductive disorders, thyroid dysfunction, breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and hormonal disruptions. Not all the studies have shown this correlation though.
Studying the issue of plastic packaging is not an easy task. Researchers have to face strong lobby on behalf of food and packaging industry groups, which often insist on protecting the ingredients of packaging as trade secrets. None the less, scientists continue their efforts to learn more about the effects of chemicals seeping into packaged food.
To learn more on the subject you can read a book by Susan Freinkel "Plastic: A Toxic Love Story"
Source: Washington Post: "If the food's in plastic, what's in the food?"