Yesterday, February 12, 2013 the Federal Institute for Risk Evaluation (BfR), Germany withdrew its recommendation for the use of anthraquinone in food contact materials (BfR opinion, pdf). Until now anthraquinone was listed in the German food packaging recommendations for “paper, carton and board intended for food contact” and “paper, carton and board intended for baking uses”. Anthraquinone is added to paper, carton and board as a catalyst for the formation of cellulose fibers.
The opinion was released after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had published a scientific opinion in June 2012 stating that a carcinogenic potential of anthraquinone cannot be precluded and that it is not possible to conclusively evaluate its hazard potential. The subsequent reevaluation of anthraquinone led the BfR to conclude that migration levels from paper and board onto food may exceed the migration limit of 0.01mg/kg food.
In 2012, anthraquinone has also been classified as a 2B (a possible) carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Further, the European Commission rejected an application for the inclusion of anthraquinone in Annex I of the plant protection regulation 91/414/EEC and withdrew authorizations for plant protection products containing anthraquinone due to its harmful effects on humans and nature in 2008 (2008/986/EG).
Corrigendum: Anthraquinone is used as a catalyst for separating lignin and cellulose in the extraction of fibres in the manufacturing process of paper and board.
BfR opinion (pdf)