On January 12, 2018, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavorings and Processing Aids (CEF Panel) published two scientific opinions on the safety assessment of selenium nanoparticles and isobutane (FPF reported) for use in food contact materials (FCMs).

Selenium nanoparticles (CAS 7782-49-2), to be used as an antioxidant, are “incorporated into the adhesive middle layer of multilayer laminates with an outside polyethylene terephthalate (PET) layer and an inner polyolefin (food contact) layer.” The final FCMs are intended for all types of food susceptible to oxidation. Migration tests were carried out using multilayer pouches containing selenium particles and holding different food simulants. No migration of selenium was detected in any of the tests. Based on the test results and “current knowledge on the diffusional properties of nanoparticles in polymers,” the CEF Panel concluded that selenium nanoparticles are safe for consumers if “used in multilayer films and separated from the food by a polyolefin food contact layer for any type of food and under any food contact conditions.”

Isobutane (CAS 75-28-5), to be used as a foaming agent, is added “at max 4.5% to produce expanded polystyrene (EPS) to be used for packaging foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and cheese, at room temperature or lower.” Isobutane is already approved in Europe as a food additive for specific uses, the CEF Panel noted. The substance is “not expected to react under the processing conditions used to make foamed polystyrene materials and articles.” Migration of isobutane from trays at 20°C for ten days was found to be between 0.2 to 0.4 mg/kg food. Thus, “considering the intended applications, estimated exposure is extremely low.” There were no genotoxicity alerts and toxicity was very low “following repeated exposure with no observed adverse effect concentration (NOAEC) of several thousands of mg/m3 by inhalation.” Therefore, the CEF Panel concluded that isobutane is safe for consumers if used “as a foaming agent, at the expected exposure from food.”

Read more

CEF (January 12, 2018). “Safety assessment of the active substance selenium nanoparticles, for use in active food contact materials.EFSA Journal 16(1):5115.

CEF (January 12, 2018). “Safety assessment of the substance isobutane, for use in food contact materials.EFSA Journal 16(1):5116.

Chemical Watch (January 17, 2018). “EFSA panel greenlights two food contact materials.