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What’s really in our food?

What’s really in our food? Packaging, pesticides and additives

There’s now another reason to cut down on fast foods. Certain types of packaging are releasing potentially harmful chemicals into food such as chips, pizza, hamburgers and pies.

In a presentation on Saturday 8 December, Alison White of the Safe Food Campaign will look at packaging, its effects on food, and what we can do about it. She will also expose which foods available in New Zealand are more likely to have pesticide residues and which additives are more likely to cause problems, not just in children, but also adults.

“It is estimated that about 95% of people have phthalates in their bodies,” said Ms White. She reported that phthalates, a type of chemical typically coming from soft plastic, have been found at higher levels in those who have eaten more fast food. In New Zealand the first study to look at two packaging chemicals migrating into food, published last year, found phthalates in takeaway noodles from plastic bowls, pizza from cardboard boxes, and cling film wrapped meat and sausages packed on polystyrene trays. "Any food that is hot and greasy is more likely to pick up chemicals from packaging," she said.

“Research shows a range of problems associated with these chemicals, such as immune system suppression and hormonal effects,” said Ms White. “We have to give manufacturers the message that plastic packaging is not good for us, our children nor for the environment.”

“Consumers can reduce their use of plastics at home too,” advised Ms White. She strongly urges people not to put plastic in the microwave. With packaging Ms White recommends that consumers pursue the policy of REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE.

The Safe Food Campaign, based in Wellington, is a nationwide non-profit organisation aiming to give consumers information about food, so that they can make a more informed choice when they shop.

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“What’s really in our food? A look at packaging, pesticides and additives”, presentation by Alison White at Brian Davis Room, St Paul’s Cathedral, Hill St (behind Thorndon Farmers’ market), Wellington, Saturday 8 December 11.30am-12.30pm

ENDS

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