On May 13, 2016 the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavorings and Processing Aids (CEF Panel) published scientific opinions on the safety assessment of three substances for use in food contact materials (FCMs).

Poly((R)-3-hydroxybutyrate-co-(R)-3-hydroxyhexanoate) (CAS 147398-31-0) is intended to be used in packaging for contact with fresh whole fruits and vegetables. The biodegradable (co)polymer is produced by fermentation of genetically modified microorganisms (Cupriavidus necator) using palm oil. Overall migration was lower than 1 mg/dm2. Genotoxicity data are not required because of the substance’s high molecular weight. Crotonic acid and (E)-2-hexenoic acid are degradation products that may be present in the (co)polymer. Crotonic acid is authorized for use in FCMs with a specific migration limit (SML) of 0.05 mg/kg food. In a previous evaluation, the CEF Panel identified no indication of genotoxicity for (E)-2-hexenoic acid. The CEF Panel concluded that poly((R)-3-hydroxybutyrate-co-(R)-3-hydroxyhexanoate) is safe if used alone or in blends with other polymers for contact with unpeeled/uncut fruits and vegetables.

Polyacrylic acid, sodium salt, cross-linked, (CAS 9003-04-7) is intended to be used as a liquid absorber in packaging for fresh or frozen foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables. Due to the substance’s high absorption of liquids, specific migration tests were not performed. If the substance is placed in a pad (i.e. no direct contact with food) and used under conditions where its absorption capacity is not exceeded, the CEF Panel expects no migration from the packaging into the food. The CEF Panel concluded that, under said conditions, polyacrylic acid, sodium salt, cross-linked, is safe when used in absorbent pads in the packaging of fresh or frozen meat, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables.

Potassium metabisulfite (E 224, CAS 16731-55-8) is intended to extend the shelf life of wine by in situ generation of the active substance sulfur dioxide (SO2, E 220). Agar gel (E 406) is used as a physical support media for E 224 and E 220 generated from it. This mixture is contained within plastic containers, closed with a membrane of polyethersulfone (PES). SO2 is formed when the precursor (E 224) comes in contact with water contained in the agar gel. PES acts as a microporous membrane, ensuring controlled diffusion of SO2 from the active cap into the wine. Interactions and reactions between the active ingredients and the PES, the agar, or the plastic caps, and release of reaction products into the wine, are not to be expected. The CEF Panel concluded that potassium metabisulfite, as well as other authorized ‘sulfites’ (E 221, E 222, E 223, E 226, E 227 and E 228), are safe if used as precursors for the release of SO2 into wine under said conditions.

Read more

CEF (May 13, 2016). “Safety assessment of the substance Poly((R)-3-hydroxybutyrate-co-(R)-3-hydroxyhexanoate) for use in food contact materials.

CEF (May 13, 2016). “Safety assessment of the active substance polyacrylic acid, sodium salt, cross-linked, for use in active food contact materials.

CEF (May 13, 2016). “Safety assessment of the active substance potassium metabisulfite, for use in active food contact materials.