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

Background

European citizens discard on average 170 kg of packaging per person every year, more than two thirds come from food. It is therefore important to find a good balance between the benefits of packaging in terms of food protection and its impact on the environment.

Objectives

For more than 30 years, the Task Force has strived to understand the challenges to ensure safe food contact materials for food consumption by:

  • Evaluating food contact materials safety and their interactions with food to ensure consumers’ safety at minimal environmental impact.
  • Addressing recent improvements in food production and distribution, leading to an increased sophistication of food packaging.

Impact

Since 2000, the Task Force has published a series of guidance documents on packaging materials recognised and used by industries and universities.
In June 2020, the Task Force organised the first web-seminar “Food Packaging: is it just for protection or there is more to it?” to discuss the balance between functionality, convenience and sustainability of food packaging. More than 100 participants joined the web-seminar, including 30 representatives of public authorities and agencies.

Moreover, on December 7th we had a web-seminar on “Food Contact Materials in Circular Economy”. By 2030, the European Commission will propose measures to ensure that all packaging in the EU is reusable or recyclable. To achieve this target, the EC has adopted a new action plan, the Circular Economy Action Plan promoting circular economy processes and driving design for re-use and recyclability of packaging (European Commission, 2020). In the context of food packaging, this calls not only for new designs for recyclability and re-usability but also for new methods to assess the chemical safety of recycled food contact materials. In addition, this transition will also bring its share of challenges for bodies controlling those materials and ensuring they are indeed sustainable and safe. During the web-seminar, those three aspects were discussed in the light of emerging research. Watch it online:

Webinar 7 December 2020 –  Food Contact Materials in Circular Economy

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Simeon Bourdoux at sbourdoux@ilsieurope.be at or Adam Coventry at acoventry@ilsieurope.be

Task Force Members


* Scientific Advisors

Expert Groups

Best Practices for Identifying and Quantifying Unknown Migrants from Food Contact Materials (FCMs)

Background & Objectives
The NIAS (Non-Intentionally Added Substances) are present in all Food Contact Materials. However, there is no common methodology on how to perform the sample preparation, analysis, or on how to identify and more importantly quantify the migrants.
This activity aims to provide best practices to identify and quantify unknown migrants from FCMs, with widely differing characteristics and applicable to any type of single use FCM. The objective is to determine whether a set of basic golden rules could align procedures.

Output
This activity will result in a recommendation document that will determine potential best practices to align methods available for untargeted screening and future testing.
To develop it, the draft will be discussed at an international workshop organised back-to-back with the 7th International Packaging Symposium.

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

7th International Symposium on Food Packaging
Due to COVID19 pandemic, the symposium had to be postponed to 2022. Specific dates to be determined.

Background & Objectives
The ILSI Europe International Symposium on Food Packaging is held every four years. It is internationally recognised as a scientific forum to discuss and move forward the science that supports safety and innovation in the field, with minimal environmental impact.
This conference of experts facilitates transfer of knowledge and brings innovative solutions to the most pressing issues in this field. The proceedings of these symposia are published in Food Additives and Contaminants: Part A.

Output
The 7th International Symposium on Food Packaging will be held on 2022 in Barcelona, Spain.

This three-day conference will be structured around 4 main themes:
1. Advances in analytical techniques;
2. Progress in toxicological prediction and assessment;
3. Progress in risk assessment;
4. Food Contact Materials in circular economy.

Expert Group Members

Best Practices for Identifying and Quantifying Unknown Migrants from Food Contact Materials (FCMs)

7th International Symposium on Food Packaging
Due to COVID19 pandemic, the symposium had to be postponed to 2022. Specific dates to be determined.

Organising Committee Members

Scientific Committee Members

Publications

All Publications

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Process-Related Compounds and Natural Toxins Task Force

FOOD RELATED CONTAMINANTS

Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons may unintentionally contaminate food through different routes across food chains and the lifecycle of food contact materials.

Gaps in the knowledge about mineral oil hydrocarbons (MON) still exist despite the recent advances in the research field.

A workshop to identify those gaps was organized by the European Branch of the International Life Science Institute.

Some of these were identified to be:

  • the lack of validated and standardized analytical methods for relevant food matrices, and
  • gaps in assessing the risk for consumers' health.

The consensus is that the lack of standardized, validated analytical methods able to assure good inter-laboratory reproducibility is the main gap underlining most of the existing difficulties to understand MOH.

In order to conduct adequate substance identification and quantification for input into risk assessment, the need for confirmatory methods that provide a detailed characterization of the unresolved complex mixtures needs to be solved.

The limited number of surveys covering a wide range of foods and enough samples to detect major sources of contamination other than packaging in paperboard also hinders reliable exposure estimation.

Fig. 4. Decision tree to identify auxilary methods. Adapted from Bratinova & Hoekstra, 2019. ALOX: Al2O3.
Decision tree to identify auxilary methods. (Adapted from Bratinova & Hoekstra, 2019)

Industry sectors represented in the workshop

  • Food & Drink
  • Mineral Oil/Waxes
  • Testing Laboratories
  • Analytical Instruments
  • Food Contact Materials
  • Cosmetics
  • Petroleum
Scientific abstract Expand Background
In recent years there have been significant advancements in the understanding of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) in foods and their potential risk to health. However, important gaps in knowledge remain, such as the lack of validated and standardized analytical methods for relevant food matrices and gaps in assessing the risk for consumers' health. Scope & approach
A workshop was organized by the European Branch of the International Life Science Institute to identify knowledge gaps in analytical methods, assessment of exposure, hazard characterisation, and risk assessment of MOH. This work captures the outcome of the workshop and builds upon it by combining the perspectives of the participants with an updated review of the literature to provide a roadmap for future management of the topic. Key findings and conclusions
Most participants to the workshop agreed that the key issue underlying many of the knowledge gaps in the field of MOH risk analysis and management is the lack of standardized, validated analytical methods able to assure good inter-laboratory reproducibility and to enable understanding of MOH occurrence in foods. It has been demonstrated that method EN 16995 used for MOH determination in vegetable oils and fats is not reliable below 10 mg/kg of food. There is also a need for confirmatory methods that provide a detailed characterization of the unresolved complex mixture observed from one-dimensional chromatographic methods. This is required to enable adequate substance identification and quantification for input into risk assessment. A major gap in the exposure estimation is the limited number of surveys covering a wide range of foods and enough samples to detect major sources of contamination other than packaging in paperboard. Data on concentration of MOH fractions in human body needed to determine internal exposure estimates is scarce. Data relating concentration in tissues with personal data, lifestyle, food intake and the use of cosmetics are needed to clarify the complex system of distribution of MOSH in the body and to possibly establish relationship between external and internal exposure. Additional toxicological studies to better characterize the hazards of relevant MOH are required for a better human health risk assessment. Keywords Expand

Mineral oil hydrocarbon, Risk assessment, Exposure assessment, Food contaminant, MOSH, MOAH

Number of participants in the workshop 61 from Academica, Public organisations, and Industry. EN 16995 used for MOH determination in vegetable oils and fats is not reliable below 10 mg/kg of food. Main indetified gaps in the knowledge of Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons 8

To enable human risk assessment, the performance of toxicological studies on the relevant MOH mixtures and possibly their components is required.

This work was conducted in collaboration with the Packaging Materials Task Force.

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Process-Related Compounds and Natural Toxins Task Force

FOOD RELATED CONTAMINANTS

Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons may unintentionally contaminate food through different routes across food chains and the lifecycle of food contact materials.

Gaps in the knowledge about mineral oil hydrocarbons (MON) still exist despite the recent advances in the research field.

A workshop to identify those gaps was organized by the European Branch of the International Life Science Institute.

Some of these were identified to be:

  • the lack of validated and standardized analytical methods for relevant food matrices, and
  • gaps in assessing the risk for consumers' health.

The consensus is that the lack of standardized, validated analytical methods able to assure good inter-laboratory reproducibility is the main gap underlining most of the existing difficulties to understand MOH.

In order to conduct adequate substance identification and quantification for input into risk assessment, the need for confirmatory methods that provide a detailed characterization of the unresolved complex mixtures needs to be solved.

The limited number of surveys covering a wide range of foods and enough samples to detect major sources of contamination other than packaging in paperboard also hinders reliable exposure estimation.

Fig. 4. Decision tree to identify auxilary methods. Adapted from Bratinova & Hoekstra, 2019. ALOX: Al2O3.
Decision tree to identify auxilary methods. (Adapted from Bratinova & Hoekstra, 2019)

Industry sectors represented in the workshop

  • Food & Drink
  • Mineral Oil/Waxes
  • Testing Laboratories
  • Analytical Instruments
  • Food Contact Materials
  • Cosmetics
  • Petroleum
Scientific abstract Expand Background
In recent years there have been significant advancements in the understanding of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) in foods and their potential risk to health. However, important gaps in knowledge remain, such as the lack of validated and standardized analytical methods for relevant food matrices and gaps in assessing the risk for consumers' health. Scope & approach
A workshop was organized by the European Branch of the International Life Science Institute to identify knowledge gaps in analytical methods, assessment of exposure, hazard characterisation, and risk assessment of MOH. This work captures the outcome of the workshop and builds upon it by combining the perspectives of the participants with an updated review of the literature to provide a roadmap for future management of the topic. Key findings and conclusions
Most participants to the workshop agreed that the key issue underlying many of the knowledge gaps in the field of MOH risk analysis and management is the lack of standardized, validated analytical methods able to assure good inter-laboratory reproducibility and to enable understanding of MOH occurrence in foods. It has been demonstrated that method EN 16995 used for MOH determination in vegetable oils and fats is not reliable below 10 mg/kg of food. There is also a need for confirmatory methods that provide a detailed characterization of the unresolved complex mixture observed from one-dimensional chromatographic methods. This is required to enable adequate substance identification and quantification for input into risk assessment. A major gap in the exposure estimation is the limited number of surveys covering a wide range of foods and enough samples to detect major sources of contamination other than packaging in paperboard. Data on concentration of MOH fractions in human body needed to determine internal exposure estimates is scarce. Data relating concentration in tissues with personal data, lifestyle, food intake and the use of cosmetics are needed to clarify the complex system of distribution of MOSH in the body and to possibly establish relationship between external and internal exposure. Additional toxicological studies to better characterize the hazards of relevant MOH are required for a better human health risk assessment. Keywords Expand

Mineral oil hydrocarbon, Risk assessment, Exposure assessment, Food contaminant, MOSH, MOAH

Number of participants in the workshop 61 from Academica, Public organisations, and Industry. EN 16995 used for MOH determination in vegetable oils and fats is not reliable below 10 mg/kg of food. Main indetified gaps in the knowledge of Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons 8

To enable human risk assessment, the performance of toxicological studies on the relevant MOH mixtures and possibly their components is required.

This work was conducted in collaboration with the Packaging Materials Task Force.

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