By Dr. Shelby Furman, Director, Food and Product Safety Programs, FMI


Consumers are increasingly asking the question, “What’s in my food and does it pose a health risk?” But they often find that clear answers are hard to come by given the sheer amount of conflicting information or outright misinformation circulating online. To help guide consumers, FMI works with the entire food industry to highlight that the food supply is safe and that policies to safeguard public health are grounded in science. Recently, FMI released our Food Protection Committee initiatives, which are comprised of traceability, produce safety and, due to heightened interest and awareness, chemical contaminants.

In general, there are three types of hazards in food and food contact substances, such as packaging materials: biological, physical and chemical. The food industry invests significant time and resources to identify and to prevent or control these hazards. While many hazards can be prevented, others cannot, which is the case for many chemical contaminants. When hazards cannot be prevented, industry relies on mitigation measures to control or reduce the hazard to an acceptable level. Additionally, due to increased awareness, consumer interest, increased testing and improved analytical detection methods, there has been pressure from advocacy groups to update or create new regulations regarding the presence of chemical contaminants.

Chemical contaminants can be classified in three ways:

  • Environmental contaminants
  • Color and food additives
  • Economic or intentional adulteration

With the increased attention that these contaminants have gained, FMI recently formed a Chemical Contaminants Workgroup to allow member companies to collaborate and share scientific and technical information. This workgroup is open to all retail, wholesale and product supplier members and works directly through FMI’s Product Supplier Scientific Affairs Committee and the Food Protection Committee.

The workgroup will focus on keeping members up to date on current legislation and regulation at the federal and state levels, providing support on science-based policies on food and packaging to ensure compliance, and serve as technical experts for FMI’s members on chemical contaminants. The workgroup will prioritize contaminants such as heavy metals (FDA’s Closer to Zero Program), per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), pesticides, and food additive regulations in addition to emerging issues that may arise.

The new workgroup meetings occur on the first Tuesday of each month at 3pm Eastern. FMI members interested in participating in these meetings should contact Dr. Shelby Furman at to join the workgroup.