On February 2, 2018, the Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavorings and Processing Aids (CEF Panel) of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a scientific opinion on the safety assessment of the active substances carboxymethylcellulose (CAS 9000-11-7), acetylated distarch phosphate, bentonite (CAS 1302-78-9), boric acid (CAS 10043-35-3), and aluminum sulfate (CAS 10043-01-3). All five substances have been previously approved as an additive in plastic food contact materials (Commission Regulation EU 10/2011) and/or as a food additive (boric acid E 284, acetylated distarch phosphate E 1414). In 2010, however, boric acid was added to the REACH candidate list of substances of very high concern.

A mixture of carboxymethylcellulose, acetylated distarch phosphate, bentonite, boric acid, and aluminum sulfate is intended to be used as liquid absorber in active food packaging. For the assessment, the active mixture was provided in the form of granules and entangled with fibrous materials (e.g., plastic fibers) and binders to form a non-woven structure. This fabric was subsequently covered with plastic or other non-woven layers to avoid direct contact with the food. The CEF Panel, having assessed the overall migration and the specific migration of aluminum and boric acid, concluded that the absorbent pads are not of a safety concern if direct contact between the active mixture and the food is avoided and the fluid absorption capacity is not exceeded.

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CEF (February 2, 2018). “Safety assessment of the active substances carboxymethylcellulose, acetylated distarch phosphate, bentonite, boric acid and aluminium sulfate, for use in active food contact materials.EFSA Journal 16(2):5121.

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