On November 9, 2018, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes and Processing Aids (CEP Panel) published a scientific opinion on the safety of the active substance polyacrylic acid, sodium salt, cross‐linked (from now on referred to as the substance). The substance has already been evaluated by EFSA in 2014 and 2016 (FPF reported).

The substance is “intended to be used as a liquid absorber in the packaging of fresh or frozen foods such as meat, poultry and seafood as well as fresh fruits and vegetables,” the CEP Panel informed. No specific migration tests were performed because of the substance’s high absorption of liquids. No migration and thus no exposure “from the consumption of the packed food” is expected if the substance is not used “in direct contact with food and placed in a pad under conditions where its absorption capacity is not exceeded,” the CEP Panel explained. Further, the non‐cross‐linked polymer and the cross‐linkers are not considered to be genotoxic.

Therefore, the CEP Panel concluded that the substance is safe for consumers “when used in absorbent pads in the packaging of fresh or frozen foods.” However, “[t]he absorbent pads must be used only under conditions in which the absorption capacity of the active substance is not exceeded and direct contact with food is excluded.”

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CEP (November 8, 2018). “Safety assessment of the active substance polyacrylic acid, sodium salt, cross‐linked, for use in active food contact materials.EFSA Journal 16(11):5448.