Scientifically addressing the main challenges in the safety and quality of food contact & packaging materials

Background

European citizens discard on average 157 kg of packaging per person every year, of which more than two thirds come from food. It is important to find a good balance between the benefits of packaging in terms of food protection and its impact on the environment.

Upcoming

A workshop will be organised in 2018 on in Vitro Bioassays for Food Contact Materials Safety’ to discuss the most relevant bioassays, their limitations and relevance in the context of packaging safety.
A new activity proposal is being developed on ‘Standardisation of Analytical Testing for NIAS from Food Contact Materials’. The objective of this exercise is to try and determine whether a set of basic golden rules could be defined to align procedures (e.g. sample preparations, (chromatographic) analysis, choice of testing conditions).

What’s New

An update of the report ‘Packaging Materials 7: Metal Packaging for Foodstuffs’ has been commissioned by the task force.

Objectives

Packaging Materials Task Force activities address:

  • Recent improvements in food production and distribution leading to an increased sophistication of food packaging; and
  • Evaluation of food contact materials and their interactions with food as this is needed to ensure consumers’ safety at minimal environmental impact.

Impact

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Lucie Geurts at lgeurts@ilsieurope.be.

Task Force Members


* Scientific Advisors

Expert Groups

6th International Symposium on Food Packaging 2016

Objectives
The ILSI Europe International Symposia on Food Packaging are held every four years and are internationally recognised as scientific fora to discuss and move forward the science that supports safety and innovation in the field with minimal environmental impact. This multi-disciplinary meeting is of interest to those active in issues associated with the safety and quality of food packaging, particularly food scientists, chemists, mathematicians, physicists, packaging specialists, control authorities, regulators and risk assessors. It brings together those involved in basic studies, those responsible for bringing innovations to the market place and those in charge of ensuring the safety and quality of food contact materials.

Activity
The 6th International Symposium on Food Packaging took place on 16-18 November 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. Attracting 313 participants from 43 countries, 24 high-quality oral presentations were featured and 150 posters were selected by the Scientific and Organising Committees. The three best posters received awards.

The programme covered a wide range of subjects related to food packaging:

  • Progress in Risk Assessment;
  • Safety Challenges Arising from Renewable and Recycling Food Contact Materials;
  • Safety-By-Design;
  • Innovation Packaging and Emerging Technologies;
  • Future Challenges in Food Packaging Processing and Food Processing Equipment.

Output
This conference of experts facilitated transfer of knowledge and brought innovative solutions to the most pressing issues in this field. The proceedings of the symposium will be submitted for publication in Food Additives and Contaminants: Part A and will include keynote lectures, oral papers and best posters winners. Podcasts on topics discussed during the symposium were listened to around 600 times.

Workshop − Mineral Oil Risk Assessment: Knowledge Gaps and Roadmap – New
In collaboration with the Process-Related Compounds & Natural Toxins Task Force

Objectives
This activity aims to bring together tripartite stakeholders across sectors − food, packaging, cosmetics and lubricants − to examine the current approaches used to establish the safety of mineral oil hydrocarbons. This will include identification of the data gaps on sources of exposure (both dietary and non-dietary) current analytical methodologies, approaches to risk assessment and potential mitigation risk management measures.

Activity
There is uncertainty about the exposure to mineral oils, how/what to measure and characterise, and ultimately what this exposure means in terms of consumer safety. There is consensus between multi-sector stakeholders for a need to address knowledge/data gaps on mineral oils. This activity will bring tripartite stakeholders together to share knowledge and define how best to address the knowledge gaps and uncertainties in the risk assessment.

Roles and Applications of in vitro Bioassays in Safety Evaluation of Food Contact Materials

Objectives
There is an urgent need to better understand the actual safety significance of food contact materials (FCM) as a source of chemical exposure in humans. In accordance with European legislation, migration from food packaging must be safe. In principle, any non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) should be evaluated and/or managed if relevant from a health risk perspective. While there is currently no consensus on how to identify and assess the NIAS of concern, it has increasingly been acknowledged that a traditional approach based on identification/quantification of all substances together with their full toxicological characterisation is neither practical nor desirable. In vitro bioassays may play a role in the assessment of complex mixtures of chemicals migrating from FCM. However, none of these have been specifically assessed for their suitability to address NIAS safety. Thus, the objective of the activity is to review the roles, availability and suitability of in vitro bioassays for safety assessment of FCM.

Activity
The expert group will clarify the roles, availability and reliability of bioassays for packaging safety assessment. More specifically, the activity will address the following points:

Define roles of bioassays in safety assessment of FCM:

  • To support application of Cramer class III-TTC:
  • Others (hazard identification/characterization/Tox21);
  • To identify chemicals of concerns in complex mixtures;
  • Determine the most relevant endpoints;
  • For other purposes.
  • To support application of Cramer class III-TTC:

Examine the availability, quality and fit-for-purpose of bioassays:

  • To address repeatability, reproducibility (intra- & inter-lab.), selectivity and sensitivity, metabolism, suitability for high molecular weight materials (e.g. oligomers) and mixtures;
  • To establish criteria;
  • Interpret / manage data;
  • Describe limitations and research needs.

Expected Output
This activity will develop and publish a transparent guidance document on the use of in vitro data in packaging safety assessment. The guidance will be widely applicable (in combination with the ILSI Europe report on NIAS) and should contribute to safer packaging products. Consumer trust should be regained with respect to packaging safety, and business relationships should be improved within industry (e.g. food and packaging industry). The outputs of this activity will be reviewed during a workshop that will be organised in 2018, to discuss the most relevant bioassays, their limitations and relevance in the context of packaging safety.

Packaging Materials Report 10: Adhesives for Food Packaging Applications

Objectives
This project aims to bring awareness about the importance of safe food packaging to a broader platform and, in particular, increase the knowledge around adhesives in food contact applications. This publication will summarise the latest developments in adhesive technologies. The aim of this report is to give an overview over the different types of adhesives used as specific food contact materials in various packaging. Depending on the broad variation of chemistry in the adhesive formulations, the products have very different properties and application possibilities.

Activity
Adhesives are part of various types of food packaging. They are based on very different formulations containing a multiplicity of substances. This report will describe the diverse technologies of food packaging adhesives, the regulatory background and their risk assessment. This report is addressed to the whole value chain and mainly to converters, food packaging producers and food industry.

Packaging Materials Report 1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) for Food Packaging Applications – Update – Completed

Objectives
The first issue of the ILSI Europe Report on ‘Packaging Materials: 1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) for Food Packaging Applications’ was published in 2000. The aim of this activity was to integrate recent scientific and regulatory developments on PET in an updated version of the manuscript.

Activity
This report was originally published by ILSI HESI in 1993. Due to scientific and regulatory developments, the report was updated by ILSI Europe in 2000. ILSI Europe’s Packaging Materials Task Force is currently working on a new update of this report. The updated version has been submitted for final approval.

Packaging Materials Report 2: Polystyrene (PS) for Food Packaging Applications – Update – Completed

Objectives
The ILSI Europe Report on ‘Packaging Materials 2. Polystyrene for Food Packaging Applications’ was first published in 2002. In view of recent developments in this field, an update of this report is necessary and is currently in preparation.

Activity
The updated version of the report will highlight major changes in toxicological aspects and on regulatory issues. Minor updates will be made in the other chapters as required. The updated version has been submitted for final approval.

Outlook and Challenges of Nanotechnologies for Food Packaging – Completed

Objectives
While most nanotechnology applications for the food sector are currently at R&D or near-market stages, applications for food packaging are rapidly becoming a commercial reality. The objective of this activity was to review the potential benefits of nanotechnologies in food packaging applications and identify potential challenges in terms of consumer acceptance, and safety and environmental impact during their entire life cycle. Migration and detection methods, risk assessment and regulatory implications were also addressed.

Activity
The group drafted a guidance document on the new opportunities and safety considerations of nanotechnologies in food packaging. A workshop was organised in February 2012 to gain stakeholders’ viewpoints on future directions of the technology and to find a way forward to deal with the associated challenges.

Output
This activity provides an up-to-date overview of the use of nanomaterials in food contact materials and the migration behaviour of nanoparticles from these materials into foods.

Expert Group Members

6th International Symposium on Food Packaging 2016

Organising Committee Members


Scientific Committee Members

Workshop − Mineral Oil Risk Assessment: Knowledge Gaps and Roadmap – New
In collaboration with the Process-Related Compounds & Natural Toxins Task Force
The list of Organising Committee members will soon be available

Roles and Applications of in Vitro Bioassays in Safety Evaluation of Food Contact Materials

Packaging Materials 1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) for Food Packaging Applications – Completed

Packaging Materials 2. Polystyrene for Food Packaging Applications – Completed

Outlook and Challenges of Nanotechnologies for Food Packaging – Completed

Publications

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