130 Participants from the food and food contact industry met on June 16-17, 2016 in Cologne, Germany, to discuss “Residues of food contact materials in food” at the 5th International Fresenius Conference. Speakers from food industry, food contact materials (FCMs) manufacturers, regulatory authorities, universities, enforcement, and testing laboratories covered a broad range of topics related to the safety of FCMs.

In the first presentation, Bastiaan Schupp, legislative officer at the European Commission (EC), summarized the ongoing work at the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE). He announced the 6th and 7th amendment of the Plastics Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 for the third quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, respectively. The 6th amendment will include migration limits for three oligomers and aluminum and reduce the current limit for zinc. Further changes in the text of the Plastics Regulation are expected and will also include modifications in Annex III and V. Migration testing guidelines are anticipated to be published together with the 6th amendment. Further activities of the EC on FCMs will include the reduction of lead and cadmium limits in ceramics, the publication of the JRC baseline study (FPF reported), the authorization of plastic recycling processes, the introduction of a specific migration limit (SML) for bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) in coatings and the amendment of the SML for BPA in plastics (FPF reported).

Eric Barthélémy, scientific officer at the food ingredients and packaging unit of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), presented EFSA’s current activities in the area of FCMs and mainly focused on EFSA’s scientific opinion on food contact materials which was published in January 2016 (FPF reported). He introduced three principles for data requirements including (i) a tiered approach based on exposure, (ii) the applicability for all substances (whether intentionally or non-intentionally added), and (iii) an exposure based approach based on food consumption data. Barthélémy further summarized EFSA’s ongoing work on the safety assessment of active and intelligent materials as well as on uncertainties in risk assessment.

Two further presentations focused on functional barriers that are under development to reduce the migration of mineral oils and other contaminants from recycled paper and board: Frank Welle from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV), Germany, introduced and compared three experimental set-ups based on analyzing the migration, permeation or lag-time of functional barriers. Konrad Grob from the Official Food Control Authority of the Kanton Zurich, Switzerland, explained a method to determine the efficiency of functional barriers using silicon paper as food simulant (FPF reported). Internal bags are the simplest way to introduce a functional barrier, whereas paperboard with laminated or coated barriers or adsorbents may not be easy to evaluate, handle and recycle, Grob concluded.

An update on analytical techniques for the identification of non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) was given by Malcolm Driffield from Fera Science, UK. In his presentation, he summarized different mass spectrometry methods providing separation by gas or liquid chromatography or directly analyzing solid samples. Driffield reviewed further analytical issues such as database searches, derivatization and quantification of analytes, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry, and the use of universal detectors, which are complement methods to facilitate the analysis of NIAS from FCMs. However, identification and quantification of NIAS are still providing challenges, Driffield deduced.

In vivo and in vitro test methods for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were outlined by Ivonne Rietjens from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. After explaining the principles and giving examples of several assays for EDC (including the uterotrophic and Hershberger bioassays, hormone receptor binding assays, reporter gene assays, E-screen, and coregulatory bindings assays), Rietjens recapped the promises and pitfalls of bioassays for EDCs. The combination of novel toxicological test methods based on human cell lines and physiologically-based kinetic modelling may allow the translation of in vitro data into in vivo data, Rietjens concluded.

Cristina Nerín from the University of Zaragoza, Spain, presented case studies analyzing reproductive failures after artificial insemination of sows. Chemical migration from plastic bags used for transport and storage of the boar semen was identified as cause for severe reproductive failure (FPF reported). Routine control tests did not show any effects of the migrants on the quality of the sperms, whereas in vivo tests clearly indicated that the substances released from the plastic bags inhibited implantation and/or development of the blastocyst. Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE, CAS 1675-54-3; a common migrant from e.g. can coatings), its derivatives, and a cyclic lactone were identified as main cause of reproductive failure in sows.

Read more

5th International Fresenius Conference (June 16-17, 2015). “Residues of food contact materials in food.