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Safety of PET bottles

Prelims- Environment

1. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles are the mainstay of plastic bottles and disposable food containers.

2. It is used widely as packaging material for food, pharmaceuticals, water, edible oils, personal care products, etc.

3. For years there has been a debate internationally on whether PET bottles leach harmful chemicals when exposed to high temperatures.

EU Standards and Indian Standards

EU standards are similar to the ones specified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, except for

a) Bisphenol A (BPA) for which FSSAI has not specified standards and

b) Zinc, where FSSAI permits 25mg/kg as opposed to the EU’s 5 mg/kg.

Components Studied

1. Metals like antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, selenium and zinc were studied.

2. Along with metals, the scientists also measured terephthalic acid, Isophthalic acid, Ethylene Glycol, BPA (bis-phenol A) and phthalates.

3. BPA is a synthetic organic compound and used in the manufacture of PET bottles.

4. It is now phased out after research found a link between the presence of BPA and the disruption of hormone regulation, as well as breast cancer.

Findings of the CSIR Study

1. A comprehensive evaluation by the CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore has determined that PET bottles are safe.

2. It concluded that antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, selenium and zinc “were below” their detection limits (BDL) of 0.001 mg/kg.

3. Bisphenol-A was below its detection limit of 0.02 mg/kg.

4. They were also below the EU (European Union) regulation norms of the specific migration limit which is the maximum amount of a substance that can migrate from a food packaging material or food container into food.

5. The studies further confirmed that antimony does not leach out of PET bottles.

6. These findings further establish that no endocrine disruption happens from the use of PET bottles.

Source: The Hindu