More research needs to be carried out into the links between food packaging and issues like obesity and diabetes, experts say.

Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a group of scientists pointed out that the plastics used to make drinks bottles and even tableware could contain as many as 4,000 chemicals, with some being harmful.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, one of the group’s biggest concerns is the regular presence of formaldehyde, which they claim can be a cause of cancer. They also said that food contact materials (FCMs) often contain chemicals like tributylin, phthalates and triclosan, all of which can affect hormone production.

In the article, John Peterson Myers, Miquel Porta, Jane Muncke and Martin Scheringer called for more to be done to establish the potential health risks.

They were quoted by bbc.co.uk as saying: “Whereas the science for some of these substances is being debated and policymakers struggle to satisfy the needs of stakeholders, consumers remain exposed to these chemicals daily, mostly unknowingly.”

Some experts have criticised the claims, saying the suggested links are somewhat exaggerated. Dr Oliver Jones from Melbourne’s RMIT University, for example, said that while more research would be welcome, consumers and producers should be more concerned about the risks associated with high sugar, salt and fat levels.

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