It’s not like we needed more proof that our chemical regulatory system is completely broken. But we have it anyway.
It appears as though the food industry is starting to ship fresh produce on plastic pallets, each made with 3.5 pounds of pure decabromodiphenyl ether – Deca for short, the neurotoxic cousin of banned flame retardants penta- and octabromodiphenyl ether.
Without Deca, plastic pallets are such a fire hazard that warehouses where they are stacked need major fire safety system upgrades.
The problem comes when fruits and vegetables are hydro-cooled, placed on pallets and either dunked or showered with water to preserve freshness. Typically the water is recycled. According to the federal Food and Drug Administration, Deca can migrate from the pallets into the water and contaminate the produce with its residue.
FDA officials say they aren’t sure plastic pallets are actually being used for hydro-cooling. But I doubt they’ve looked very hard. Perhaps the FDA should Google the largest purveyor of plastic pallets, iGPS. Its website brags that its clients include General Mills, Borders Melon Company, PepsiCo, Cott, Okray Family Farms and Martoni Farm. The company says that Dole Foods and Kraft Foods are conducting trials of plastic pallets.
Is this hard?
If these companies are hydro-cooling produce stored in plastic pallets, the FDA would consider the practice “unapproved” and Deca-contaminated fruits and veggies “adulterated.”
We’re not saying this is happening. But it could be.
It’s the FDA’s job to find out.