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

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

Objectives
NIAS are present in all FCMs and there is no accepted methodology on how to perform the sample preparation, analysis, or how to identify and more importantly quantify the migrants. Numerous analytical institutes as well as industry, authorities and test laboratories use their own protocols. For non-harmonised untargeted analysis they are all different and can lead to widely different results and hence potentially incorrect risk assessment. The current situation may lead to uncertainty about the safety of FCMs. This activity aims therefore to provide best practices for identifying and quantifying unknown migrants from FCMs, with widely differing characteristics. This includes sampling, a description of migration experiment while avoiding external contamination from the environment, a description of suitable blanks, how to use and interpret the results, and the importance of communication. The best practices should be applicable to any type of single use FCM. The objective of this exercise is to determine whether a set of basic golden rules could be defined to align procedures (e.g. sample preparations, chromatographic analysis, choice of testing conditions).

Activity
This activity will develop recommendations for anyone undertaking analysis – sample preparation, (chromatographic) analysis, identification and quantification – of migrants from FCMs. A standardised approach for analysis for all FCMs will then enable a standardised approach for risk assessment and management of any migrating species. Existing protocols will be compared and combined into a protocol relevant for the scope of this activity. Where needed, additional guidance will be given based on state-of-the-art in migration testing.

Expected Output
This activity will develop and publish a recommendation document, available for anybody involved in untargeted screening and will find use in future testing. Through the suggested review process it will be determined whether best practices can be set to align methods used. The prepared recommendations will be readily implementable.

7th International Symposium on Food Packaging 2020 – New

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 7th International Symposium on Food Packaging will take place on 18-20 November 2020 (venue yet to be defined).

Workshop − Mineral Oil Risk Assessment: Knowledge Gaps and Roadmap
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 Completed

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.

Expert Group Members

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

7th International Symposium on Food Packaging 2020 – New

Organising Committee Members

Scientific Committee Members

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

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

Publications

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