On August 10, 2016 the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment published a statement regarding the migration of styrene oligomers from food contact materials (FCMs) into food simulants. The statement dates back to April 21, 2016. Styrene oligomers are non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) formed during the manufacture of polystyrene, which is used for FCMs such as packaging or tableware. The Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office Münsterland-Emscher-Lippe (CVUA-MEL), Germany, tested twelve commercially available polystyrene FCMs for migration of seven different styrene oligomers. CVUA-MEL found a total migration of styrene oligomers of up to 51 µg/kg food simulant (50% ethanol, two hours at 70°C). Migration of the single oligomers was between 3.1 and 21.5 µg/kg. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), only genotoxicity data has to be provided for migration levels up to 50 µg/kg food. BfR reviewed the available scientific literature on genotoxicity, endocrine activity, as well as developmental toxicity and concluded that there is no evidence for genotoxic potential, estrogen activity is unlikely, and styrene oligomers are not reprotoxic at oral uptake of up to 1 mg/kg body weight per day. In summary, BfR concluded that no health effects are to be anticipated from oral uptake of styrene oligomers at the migration levels measured by CVUA-MEL.
BfR (April 21, 2106). “Gemessene Gehalte an Styrol-Oligomeren in Lebensmittelsimulanzien: Gesundheitliche Risiken sind unwahrscheinlich.” (pdf; in German)