Wednesday, December 08, 2010
First it was BPA in cash register receipts, now PBDEs in some butter samples
by Larry Geller
We live in an alphabet soup of chemicals. Unfortunately, that alphabet soup is also inside of us.
A paper just released and scheduled to be published reports the first known incidence of U.S. food contamination with PBDEs. Contamination of U.S. Butter with PBDEs from Wrapping Paper *.
PBDE is polybrominated diphenyl ether—a flame retardant. The authors tested ten samples of butter purchased in supermarkets in Dallas, Texas. One out of the ten samples showed highly elevated levels of PBDE. The authors found that it came from the wrapping paper.
Another sample of the same brand of butter tested later did not show the same high level of PBDEs.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of U.S. butter contaminated with PBDEs. This suggests that screening for toxic chemicals in food can reveal their presence in U.S. food, and illustrates a potential route of exposure. Such screening would help reduce the incidence of U.S. food contamination and the amount of contaminated consumed food.
Publication of the paper will mean that the information is available to the FDA. Dr. Schecter has also contacted EPA and USDA scientists.
As the authors suggest, spot checks by regulatory agencies could help identify the extent of potential health hazards.
A pdf copy of the paper is available from the link above.
* (Schecter A, Smith S, Colacino J, Malik N, Opel M, Paepke O, et al. 2010. Contamination of U.S. Butter with PBDEs from Wrapping Paper. Environ Health Perspect :-. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002604)