In a press release published on July 25, 2019, the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) launched a report from a new study showing “that food packaging made of colored paper and cardboard – such as coffee cups and straws – may contain and release chemicals originating from the inks used for printing.” The study analyzed “76 samples of printed paper or board food packaging, such as coffee cups, paper straws, printed napkins and grocery products,” originating from four European countries, namely Italy, Norway, Denmark, and Spain.

BEUC summarized that “more than one in six samples contained primary aromatic amines, some of which are suspected to cause cancer.” More specifically, these substances were detected in 13 samples, with nine of them having levels higher than the values recommended in the EU. UV filters were detected in “almost all 76 samples,” with only five samples being negative, and migration above the EU-recommended levels was observed in six positive samples. Some of these substances are “suspected to cause cancer or disrupt the hormone system.” Further, BEUC reminded readers that “the safety of most of the substances found to migrate into food has not been evaluated” by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

BEUC is calling for the development of “strict” EU-wide rules to regulate “the use and safety of all paper and board food packaging.” This is becoming increasingly important given the current trend towards using more paper-based solutions as substitutes for single-use plastics products.

Read more

BEUC (July 25, 2019). “The EU needs rules on chemicals in coffee cups, straw and other paper food packaging, consumer test shows.

Clelia Oziel (July 31, 2019). “Tests in Europe find printing ink chemicals in coloured paper FCMs.” Chemical Watch


BEUC (July 18, 2019). “More than a paper tiger. European consumer organizations call for action on paper and board food contact materials.” BEUC-X-2019-042 (pdf)