Food Contact Materials : the Problems with the EU Laws

Chemicals in food contact materials: a gap in the internal market, a failure in public protection

Food Contact Materials – food packaging, factory equipment, food utensils – almost everything we eat has been in contact with one or more of these items. The EU’s laws should ensure that chemicals used in these materials are safe, but they do not go far enough and contain holes.

CHEM Trust Policy BriefingChemicals in food contact materials: A gap in the internal market, a failure in public protection“, first published on 26th January 2016, outlines the key problems, and proposes some solutions.

European Parliament study and draft MEP report confirm problems with EU laws on food contact chemicals, chemtrust, MAY 12, 2016.

The debate on the regulation of chemicals in food contact materials is starting to heat up, with a new studyFood Contact Materials Regulation (EC) 1935/2004″ from the European Parliament’s Research Service (EPRS) echoing many of the criticisms that CHEM Trust made.

Abstract

Food contact materials (FCMs) are widely used in everyday life in the form of food packaging, kitchen utensils, tableware, etc. When put in contact with food, the different materials may behave differently and transfer their constituents to the food. Thus, if ingested in large quantities, FCM chemicals might endanger human health, or change the food itself. Therefore, food contact materials are subject to legally binding rules at EU level, currently laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 which aims at ensuring FCM safety but also the effective functioning of the internal market in FCM goods.

The regulation sets up a general safety requirement applicable to all possible food contact materials and articles, and envisages a possibility for the adoption of specific safety requirements (i.e. further harmonisation at EU level) for seventeen FCMs listed in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004. So far, specific safety requirements have been adopted only for four FCMs: plastics (including recycled plastics), ceramics, regenerated cellulose and so-called active and intelligent materials. Where specific requirements have not been adopted at EU level, Member States could adopt such measures at national level, which is the case for several widely used FCMs, such as: paper & board, metals & alloys, glass, coatings, silicones, rubbers, printing inks etc.

However, as reported by the majority of stakeholders participating in this survey, the lack of specific measures at EU level for some food contact materials/articles negatively impacts the functioning of the internal market for the relevant material/article and its food safety. Stakeholders – across businesses, consumers, environmental and health NGOs, researchers, as well as Member States’ competent authorities – are in favour of specific measures at EU level for the FCMs that are not yet harmonised at EU level.

Read and download the whole report Food Contact Materials – Regulation (EC) 1935/2004, European Implementation Assessment Study, May 2016.

DES Update CDC 2003 Presentation for Clinicians and Nurses

Author: Jeffrey Goldberg, MD Louisville Oncology Associates, Kentucky

Developed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers of Excellence in Women’s Health (Department of Health and Human Services) for CDC’s DES Update.

Sources – CDC

More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Pourquoi garder son indépendance face à l’industrie pharmaceutique?

Futurs soignants : se former à l’indépendance

Vidéo publiée le 8 octobre 2015 par la chaîne de La Troupe du RIRE.

Les liens d’intérêts et l’influence de l’industrie pharmaceutique constituent un risque sanitaire non négligeable. Où se cache cette influence dans notre parcours de soignant ? Comment se manifeste-t-elle ? Pour quelles conséquences ? C’est à ces interrogations que ce petit livret tente de répondre..

La couleur qui symbolise la santé ? Le blanc, comme celui des blouses de médecins !
Mais qui dit blanc ne dit pas forcément transparent.
L’industrie pharmaceutique est, avec la banque, la plus profitable du monde.
Dans le budget d’un laboratoire, le marketing est désormais le premier centre de coût, devant la recherche et le développement.
Des gros sous pour entretenir avec les professionnels de santé… un dialogue sonnant et trébuchant !
Il faut dire qu’avec 18 000 visiteurs médicaux employés en France, l’industrie sait entretenir les contacts.
333 visites par médecin en moyenne chaque année, soit un coût de 25 000 € par professionnel, un record en Europe !
Pas étonnant que des propos alarmistes se fassent entendre :

“L’influence de l’industrie pharmaceutique est hors de tout contrôle. Ses tentacules s’infiltrent à tous les niveaux, médecins, patients, régulateurs, chercheurs, associations caritatives, universités, médias, soignants et politiciens. Ses multinationales planifient, sponsorisent, orchestrent et contrôlent les publications sur tous les essais de médicaments. Sa réputation est aujourd’hui très mauvaise. Il faut de grands changements. “

Sauf que là, cet extrait est tiré d’un rapport du Parlement britannique repris dans le Lancet, l’un des journaux médicaux les plus réputés au monde !
Cette situation pas terrible-terrible s’explique – entre autre – par l’absence de formation des professionnels de santé pour se prémunir de l’influence de l’industrie.
Un constat plutôt fâcheux… Heureusement, l’OMS publie en 2009 un manuel d’enseignement pour remédier à la situation : “Comprendre la promotion pharmaceutique et y répondre“, traduit par la Haute Autorité de Santé en 2013.
Mais quand on fait ses études de médecine, on ne prend pas forcément le temps de lire un manuel de 180 pages qui n’est malheureusement même pas au programme.
Du coup, NOUS – collectif d’étudiants en médecine de La Troupe du Rire avons résumé et adapté le fameux rapport de l’OMS. Ca donne ça : Ce livret – petit mais costaud : il tient dans la poche d’une blouse blanche – analyse les principales techniques utilisées par l’industrie et cherche à déterminer leur impact :
– Conduite de la recherche clinique,
– financement de la formation continue des médecins à 98% ,
– leaders d’opinion recrutés parmi les professeurs de médecine les plus influents,
– cadeaux, voyages,
– financement et publicité dans des revues spécialisées
– et bien d’autres manières encore, de tisser des liens d’intérêts avec les professionnels de santé !
Il met aussi à disposition des ressources pour se former et s’informer de manière indépendante (eh oui c’est tout à fait possible!).
Le livret fait des propositions concrètes pour faire face aux situations où l’on est confronté directement à cette influence, à l’université, à l’hôpital ou dans son cabinet.
Nous attendons toujours qu’une véritable formation soit donnée aux futurs professionnels de la santé sur ces influences contraires à l’intérêt des patients…
Pour combler ce vide, il faut nous informer et nous former par nous-mêmes.
Si comme nous, vous souhaitez mettre à l’ordre du jour les questions de formation des professionnels de santé face à l’influence des laboratoires : aidez-nous à financer l’impression de ce livret pour le faire connaître !

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Prenatal DES exposure and high-grade squamous cell neoplasia of the lower genital tract

Whether neoplasia risk remains elevated among DES-exposed women as they age, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2016

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Prenatal diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure is associated with an excess risk of clear-cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina and cervix, and of high-grade squamous neoplasia.

OBJECTIVE
We explored whether neoplasia risk remains elevated among DES-exposed women as they age.

STUDY DESIGN
In all, 4062 DES-exposed and 1837 unexposed daughters were followed for approximately 30 years (1982 through 2013) for pathology-confirmed diagnoses of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade ≥2 (CIN2+) of the lower genital tract (n = 178). Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated adjusting for birth year and individual study cohort.

RESULTS
The cumulative incidence of CIN2+ in the DES-exposed group was 5.3% (95% CI, 4.1-6.5%) and in the unexposed group was 2.6% (95% CI, 1.5-3.7%). The HR for DES and CIN2+ was 1.98 (95% CI, 1.33-2.94), and was similar with further adjustment for frequency of cervical cancer screening (HR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.33-2.93). The HR was 2.10 (95% CI, 1.41-3.13) with additional adjustment for other potential confounders. The HR for DES exposure was elevated through age 44 years (age 15th week (HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.59-2.20).

Prenatal diethylstilbestrol exposure and high-grade squamous cell neoplasia of the lower genital tract, American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, NCBI PMID: 26979629, 2016 Mar 12.
Full study ajog.

CONCLUSION
CIN2+ incidence was higher among the DES exposed, particularly those with early gestational exposure and VEC. The HR for DES and CIN2+ remained positive and significant until the mid-40s, confirming that the recommendation of annual cytological screening among these women is appropriate. Whether those ≥45 years of age continue to require increased screening is unclear, and would require a careful weighing of possible risks and benefits.

More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

How pesticides are undermining the health of rural children

There is no need for our food and farming system to put our children’s health at risk from chemical exposure

Executive Summary

A little over 100 years ago, Congress enacted the first U.S. pesticide law. The Insecticide Act of 1910 put labeling guidelines in place to protect farmers from unscrupulous vendors attempting to sell pesticide products that didn’t perform as advertised.

To this day, we control pesticides through a system of registration and labeling, with a primary goal of getting products to market. The result? Each year, more than 680 million pounds of pesticides are applied to agricultural fields across the country. This 2007 figure—the most recent government estimates available—climbs to more than a billion when common non-agricultural pesticide uses are included.

It’s true. Pesticides are harming our children, Pesticide Action Network, May 10, 2016.

We believe this is too much. Ever-stronger science shows that even at low levels of exposure, many of these chemicals are harmful to human health—and children’s developing minds and bodies are particularly vulnerable. It is also increasingly clear that alternative, less chemical-intensive approaches to farming are not only viable, but would strengthen the resilience of agricultural production.

Put simply, there is no need for our food and farming system to put our children’s health at risk from chemical exposure.

Kids on the Frontline, How pesticides are undermining the health of rural children, Pesticide Action Network, 2016.

Kids on the Frontline builds on the findings of A Generation in Jeopardy, our 2012 report summarizing the state of the science linking pesticide exposure and children’s health harms. In addition to highlighting the latest scientific findings, this new report focuses in on the particular health risks pesticides pose to children in rural agricultural communities.

Rural children experience the same chemical exposures faced by children in communities across the country from pesticide residues on food and applications in schools, parks and homes. They face additional exposures when agricultural chemicals contaminate water supplies or drift from nearby fields. These rural exposures and their impacts on children’s health are the primary focus of this report. We examine the particular vulnerabilities of children in rural communities, highlight the results of studies in rural and agricultural areas, and present specific data on four agricultural states— California, Hawai‘i, Iowa and Minnesota—that tell distinct stories of pesticide exposure in rural communities.

Key findings

Scientists have understood for decades that children are particularly vulnerable to the harms of pesticide exposure. Quickly growing bodies take in more of everything; they eat, breathe and drink more, pound for pound, than adults. As physiological systems undergo rapid changes from the womb through adolescence, interference from pesticides and industrial chemicals—even at very low levels—can derail the process in ways that lead to significant health harms.

For children, the timing of these exposures is often particularly important. At critical moments of development, even very low levels of pesticide exposure can derail biological processes in ways that have harmful, potentially lifelong effects.

In our review of government health trend data and recent academic research, we found the following:

  • Overall, childhood health problems continue to climb.
    Childhood cancer incidence continues to rise (see Figure A), as do rates of autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other developmental disabilities. Some birth defects are also on the rise.
  • Fast-rising childhood cancers have strong links to pesticides.
    Evidence linking pesticide exposure to increased risk of leukemia and brain tumors continues to mount, with new “meta-analysis” studies pointing to higher risks among children in rural agricultural areas. Incidence of these two cancers is rising more quickly than other types of childhood cancer.
  • More science links pesticides and neurodevelopmental harms.
    The body of evidence linking prenatal pesticide exposure to childhood brain and nervous system harms was already very strong in 2012, and it has gotten stronger. New studies link increased risk of developmental disorders and delays—including autism spectrum disorder—to prenatal proximity to agricultural fields where pesticides are sprayed.
  • Rural children’s “double dose” of pesticide exposure is cause for concern.
    Children in agricultural communities are exposed to pesticides above and beyond the widely shared exposures from food residues and applications in schools, parks, homes and gardens. In some cases, these children also experience economic and social stressors that can exacerbate the health harms of agricultural chemicals. Across the country, rural children are on the frontlines of pesticide exposure.

Recommendations

The best way to protect children from pesticide harms is to dramatically reduce the volume of use nationwide. We believe this shift is both achievable and long overdue. The burden of protecting children from dangerous chemicals cannot rest with individual families; policy change is required. Our recommendations below reflect both the current momentum toward building a healthier national system of food and farming, and the growing urgency of the pesticide problem. Though non-farm pesticide applications can also put children in harm’s way, these recommendations focus specifically on protecting children from exposure to agricultural pesticides.

1. Reduce overall pesticide use

It’s time to set an ambitious national use reduction goal for agricultural pesticides. Once this goal is in place, policymakers at all levels should act quickly to implement strong policies and programs to reach the goal—including, among other measures, publicly accessible use reporting systems to track progress.

2. Protect children first

Our national use reduction goals should prioritize action on those pesticides most harmful to children. In addition, protective pesticide-free buffer zones should be established around schools, daycare centers and other sensitive sites in rural agricultural areas across the country.

3. Invest in healthy, innovative farming

We need to provide significant and meaningful support, incentives and recognition for farmers stepping off the pesticide treadmill. National and state programs must prioritize investment in healthy, sustainable and resilient agricultural production.

These commonsense measures are both ambitious and achievable. The current, continuous increase in pesticide use ignores accumulating scientific evidence of human health harms. This is unacceptable.

What’s standing in the way?

Our current system of industrial agriculture and pest control relies on chemical inputs sold by a handful of corporations. These multinational entities wield tremendous control over how we grow our food, from setting research agendas in public institutions to production and sale of farm inputs including seeds, fertilizers and pest management products.

Not surprisingly, these same corporations also hold significant sway in the policy arena, investing millions of dollars every year to influence voters and policymakers at the local, state and federal levels. Their aim is to protect the market for pesticides, seeds and other agrichemicals. As public concern about the health impacts of pesticide products has grown in recent years, the pesticide industry has also invested heavily in public relations campaigns to influence the national conversation about food and farming.

The result is a system of food and farming that serves the interests of these corporations well.

It does not, however, adequately protect public health or serve the common good. Farmers, farmworkers and their families are regularly exposed to chemicals known to harm human health. The health of children in rural communities is compromised by near continuous exposure to pesticides where they live, learn and play.

We are increasingly optimistic that the commonsense changes we propose are within reach. As the science linking pesticides with children’s health harms grows ever stronger, awareness of the problem, as well as support for real solutions, continues to grow. In addition, on-the-ground evidence from the U.S. and around the world shows us that implementing our recommendations would boost—rather than undermine—the quality and quantity of food available.

We can and must fix this broken system. It’s time to support farming practices that sustain our agricultural economy and produce abundant, healthy food that is accessible to all.

Read and download the whole report.

How to Sell an Incredibly Dangerous Pesticide to the Masses

Say NO to carcinogenic Glyphosate – and No to pesticides!

Video published on 9 May 2016 by PAN Europe channel.

Europe is about to vote in favour to continue the use of glyphosate-based products for another 10 years.
How could this be possible?

More information
  • The international agency for research on cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” for humans. Such pesticides must be banned in Europe by law. But European authorities based on the industry’s undisclosed animal studies and by overlooking a range of academic scientific studies reporting the harmful effects of glyphosate, concluded that glyphosate poses no harm to humans, or to any other animal and the environment. The European parliament called for a ban at least in public areas and non-professional uses. But the Regulators have ignored this decision.
  • Watch our parodies and pesticides videos playlists on YouTube.

Certain chemicals in lotions, soaps and makeup additives linked to preterm births, smaller babies

Association of birth outcomes with fetal exposure to parabens, triclosan and triclocarban

Soap, makeup additives linked to preterm births, smaller babies, environmental healthnews, May 11, 2016.

Pregnant women in Brooklyn with high levels of certain compounds used in makeup and soaps were more likely to have preterm births and babies that weighed less.

The study, available online 11 March 2016, provides the first evidence that germ-killing and preservative chemicals used in cosmetics and soaps might impact newborns’ health. It also bolsters suspicions that chemicals in soaps and lotions disrupt people’s endocrine systems, which are crucial for reproduction and babies’ development. ”

Abstract

Association of birth outcomes with fetal exposure to parabens, triclosan and triclocarban in an immigrant population in Brooklyn, New York, science direct, 11 March 2016.
Image Michael Korbel.

Background
Prior studies suggest associations between fetal exposure to antimicrobial and paraben compounds with adverse reproductive outcomes, mainly in animal models. We have previously reported elevated levels of these compounds for a cohort of mothers and neonates.

Objective
We examined the relationship between human exposure to parabens and antimicrobial compounds and birth outcomes including birth weight, body length and head size, and gestational age at birth.

Methods
Maternal third trimester urinary and umbilical cord blood plasma concentrations of methylparaben (MePB), ethylparaben (EtPB), propylparaben (PrPB), butylparaben (BuPB), benzylparaben (BePB), triclosan (2,4,4′-trichloro-2′-hydroxydiphenyl ether or TCS) and triclocarban (1-(4-chlorophenyl)-3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl) urea or TCC), were measured in 185 mothers and 34 paired singleton neonates in New York, 2007–2009.

Results
In regression models adjusting for confounders, adverse exposure-outcome associations observed included increased odds of PTB (BuPB), decreased gestational age at birth (BuPB and TCC) and birth weight (BuPB), decreased body length (PrPB) and protective effects on PTB (BePB) and LBW (3′-Cl-TCC) (p < 0.05). No associations were observed for MePB, EtPB, or TCS.

Conclusions
This study provides the first evidence of associations between antimicrobials and potential adverse birth outcomes in neonates. Findings are consistent with animal data suggesting endocrine-disrupting potential resulting in developmental and reproductive toxicity.

We need good science and better studies

The way new studies are presented in media often misinforms the general public and may lead some people to distrust the research

Scientific Studies On “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver“, published on 8 May 2016.

Science is supposed to make us more informed. But as Oliver explained, the way new studies are presented in media often misinforms the general public – and may lead some people to distrust the research.

More information

Medical industry payments to doctors associated with higher rates of prescribing brand-name drugs

Association of Industry Payments to Physicians With the Prescribing of Brand-name Statins in Massachusetts

Another Study Finds Link Between Pharma Money and Brand-name Prescribing, propublica, May 9, 2016.

A group of researchers at Harvard Medical School has found that medical industry payments to physicians in Massachusetts are associated with higher rates of prescribing brand-name drugs that treat high cholesterol.

Abstract

Association of Industry Payments to Physicians With the Prescribing of Brand-name Statins in Massachusetts, JAMA Internal Medicine, doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1709, May 09, 2016.

Importance
Pharmaceutical industry payments to physicians may affect prescribing practices and increase costs if more expensive medications are prescribed.

Objective
Determine the association between industry payments to physicians and the prescribing of brand-name as compared with generic statins for lowering cholesterol.

Design, Setting, and Participants
Cross-sectional linkage of the Part D Medicare prescriptions claims data with the Massachusetts physicians payment database including all licensed Massachusetts physicians who wrote prescriptions for statins paid for under the Medicare drug benefit in 2011.

Main Outcomes and Measures
The exposure variable was a physician’s industry payments as listed in the Massachusetts database. The outcome was the physician’s rate of prescribing brand-name statins. We used linear regression to analyze the association between the intensity of physicians’ industry relationships (as measured by total payments) and their prescribing practices, as well as the effects of specific types of payments.

Results
Among the 2444 Massachusetts physicians in the Medicare prescribing database in 2011, 899 (36.8%) received industry payments. The most frequent payment was for company-sponsored meals (n = 639 [71.1%]). Statins accounted for 1 559 003 prescription claims; 356 807 (22.8%) were for brand-name drugs. For physicians with no industry payments listed, the median brand-name statin prescribing rate was 17.8% (95% CI, 17.2%-18.4%). For every $1000 in total payments received, the brand-name statin prescribing rate increased by 0.1% (95% CI, 0.06%-0.13%; P < .001). Payments for educational training were associated with a 4.8% increase in the rate of brand-name prescribing (P = .004); other forms of payments were not.

Image: David Sleight, ProPublica – Now There’s Proof: Docs Who Get Company Cash Tend to Prescribe More Brand-Name Meds, March 17, 2016.

Conclusions and Relevance
Industry payments to physicians are associated with higher rates of prescribing brand-name statins. As the United States seeks to reign in the costs of prescription drugs and make them less expensive for patients, our findings are concerning.

Les relations particulières entre médecins et laboratoires pharmaceutiques

Jérôme du labo “SANOFIST” nous explique sans détours les relations médecins-labos dans une vidéo

Vidéo publiée le 20 novembre 2012 par la chaîne de Julie Goyave.

Congrès des jeunes médecins généralistes – table ronde sur la place des laboratoires pharmaceutiques dans la formation des médecins.

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