PRINTING INK COMPONENTS IN FOOD PACKAGING NOT A SAFETY CONCERN, SAYS UK FSA
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The presence of printing ink components and mineral oils in food packaging materials does not pose a health risk to consumers, concluded the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) after conducting a risk assessment on the findings from a recently conducted survey on the migration into food of selected printing ink components from printed carton-board packaging materials. The results of the survey, published December 15, also included work on the presence of mineral oils in some of the food packaging samples.
The survey examined 350 food products packaged in virgin and recycled cartonboard, a multiply board made from cellulose fibers produced either from timber or from recovered fiber or waste paper.. Some level of printing ink components was found in 27 of the food samples. Additionally, 51 of the 350 cartonboard packaging samples were examined for presence of mineral oil. Each of the 51 samples contained one or more mineral oils; however, the mineral oils were present in levels similar to those that had been reported previously in published literature. Benzophenone (a photoinitiator employed in printing inks to aid in curing the inks) was detected in 11% of the total number of samples, marking a reduction in the number of samples containing benzophenone since an FSA survey carried out in 2006.
The FSA assessed the potential risk posed to consumers based on the levels of ink components and mineral oils that were found, and concluded that the materials were not present in levels that would raise health concerns. The risk assessment also considered the available toxicological data, as well as the published European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion on benzophenone. According to Dr. Alison Gleadle, FSA Director of Food Safety, no specific food safety concerns were found. The FSA advice to consumers is that there is no need to change their eating habits with respect to food that has been packaged in new or recycled cartonboard.