Phthalates and bisphenol chemicals have been widely used globally in packaging materials and consumer products for several decades. These highly functional chemicals have become a concern due to their toxicity (i.e., endocrine/hormone modulators) and ability to migrate from food contact materials (FCMs) into food matrices and the environment resulting in human and environmental health risks. FCMs, composed of postconsumer materials, are particularly high risk for containing these compounds. The evaluation of postconsumer recycled feedstocks in FCMs is compulsory and selection of an appropriate detection method to comply with applicable regulations is necessary to evaluate human and environmental safety. Numerous regulations have been proposed and passed globally for both compound classes that are recognized as priority pollutants by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union. Several brand owners and retailers have also released their own “restricted substance lists” due to the mounting consumer and regulatory concerns. This review article has two goals: (1) discuss the utilization, toxicology, human exposure routes, and occurrence levels of phthalates and bisphenols in FCMs and associated legislation in various countries and (2) discuss critical understanding and updates for detection/quantification techniques. Current techniques discussed include extraction and sample preparation methods (solid-phase microextraction [SPME], headspace SPME, Soxhlet procedure, ultrasound-assisted extraction), chromatographic techniques (gas, liquid, detectors), and environmental/blank considerations for quantification. This review complements a previous review of phthalates in foods from 2009 by discussing phthalate and bisphenol characteristics, analytical methods of determining concentrations in packaging materials, and their influence on the migration potential into food.

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This work was supported by IAFNS’ Food Packaging Safety & Sustainability Committee.