Test: Unwanted chemicals found in pizza boxes

19. okt 2015

Pizza boxes have long been known to contain potentially harmful fluorinated substances. However, a new test from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals reveals that they also contain several other problematic substances that are suspected to be endocrine disrupting or cancer-causing.


Pizza boxes test
Photo: Istock

Tests confirm content of fluorinated substances in pizza boxes

Do you know which chemicals your pizza is in close contact with in the pizza box? Content of problematic substances is confirmed by a new test from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals.

The test was conducted as a random check of three different pizza boxes – Domino’s Pizza, Linea Ecobox and a pizza box from a local pizzeria. In all three cases fluorinated substances were found in quantities which by far exceed the guiding threshold limit value in Denmark which was set in August 2015 by the Danish food authorities.

Pizza boxes contained several other problematic chemicals

Besides fluorinated substances the pizza boxes also contained a number of other chemical substances which are suspected to be either endocrine disrupting or cancer-causing. These chemicals were mineral oils, phthalates, bisphenol A and nonylphenol. It is likely that these substances – like the fluorinated substances – come from recycling material.

“It was surprising that we found known endocrine disruptors in all three pizza boxes. Furthermore we have no reason to believe that the problem with these chemicals does not concern other pizza boxes, since the results from the boxes are very similar,” says Stine Müller, project manager at the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals.

She stresses that the pizza boxes has solely been tested for content of problematic chemicals. The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals cannot say to which degree the substances migrate into the pizza.

Fluorinated substances should not be found in food packaging

Fluorinated substances have a long record of research results showing unwanted effects. Earlier this year scientists from University of Southern Denmark showed how pregnant women with high levels of fluorinated substances in the blood had an increased risk of miscarriage by up to 16 percent.

Consequently, the opinion of the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals  is that consumers should not be at risk of being exposed to these substances in their food packaging.

“It is not the single pizza box or bag of microwave popcorn for that matter that constitute a risk. But consumers are exposed to these chemicals from many different sources throughout their everyday lives. The amassed exposure can be problematic in regards to endocrine disrupting effects and we believe it is not too much to ask that these substances should not be in food packaging,” says Stine Müller.

A spokesperson from Linea Ecobox says that the company has non-fluorinated pizza boxes ready to order, but most pizzerias prefer the cheaper ones made of recycling material.

At Domino’s Pizza CEO in Denmark, Carsten Falk, will make sure, that the part of the pizza boxes which is in contact with pizza henceforth will meet the guiding threshold limit value.


For more information:

Mrs. Stine Müller, sm@fbr.dk, +45 41 94 79 06                                                             

Project Officer, Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals