Consumer Perspectives About the Quality and Safety of Plastic Materials used for Packaging of Food Products
Food packaging is essential in today's globalized markets to preserve the foods or beverages, guaranteeing their quality and safety along the food supply chain. Plastics have been used extensively for food packaging due to their many advantages, like being light, cheap, and versatile. However, some of the chemical molecules released from plastics may have toxic effects on the human body if ingested, and they are also harmful to the environment. In this way, the present work investigated consumer awareness about food quality and safety when in contact with plastic packaging materials, and also the impact of these plastics on human health. The research was conducted through a questionnaire survey applied after approval by the Ethics Committee to a sample of 487 Portuguese participants. The obtained results revealed that most of the participants consider food safety and quality aspects when buying food products (85% and 93% of respondents, respectively). As recognized by the participants, the most important functions of the plastic package were to protect and preserve the food. It was also found that the general consumer still has very limited knowledge about the possible toxicity of molecules that could migrate from the plastic to the food. Nevertheless, other adverse effects of plastics related to environmental pollution and degradation of marine fauna are well recognised. So, in conclusion, it is necessary to further inform the Portuguese citizens about possible toxicity of some chemical compounds present in plastic packaging which can reach the human body, either by being released from the package into the food or by being absorbed from the environmental micro plastics which are becoming abundant in nature as result of incorrect plastic disposal.
Keywords - Food Packaging, Food Safety, Knowledge, Human Health, Questionnaire Survey.