Extractables and Leachables are a concern for the food industry. Extractables are substances that remain in or on materials used to manufacture food containers, and leachables are substances that migrate from plastic packaging into foods. Contamination can lead to serious health risks such as cancer, birth defects, allergic reactions, hormone disruption, and reproductive issues. The most commonly found extractable is Bisphenol A (BPA) which has been shown to affect estrogen levels in both men and women. It also causes sperm count reduction among other problems including heart disease. There have also been studies linking Extractables with Alzheimer’s Disease due to the highly toxic compound Benzene being released by plastics during heating processes.
Extractables are substances that remain on or in an item after the extraction process, while leachables are substances that pass through or out of a material into another substance. Extractable chemicals can be found in foods, clothing, detergents, plastics, and more! They have become such a concern with consumers because they may contain harmful carcinogens like benzene and formaldehyde. Some common extractable chemicals include lead acetate (found in candy), methylene chloride (in paint removers), toluene (a solvent used for paints).