On June 22, 2017 the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) article about printing inks and primary aromatic amines (PAAs) in food contact materials (FCMs). “Unless countermeasures have been taken, printing inks contain substances which can transfer to food and be ingested by consumers,” the BfR informs.

PAAs are used in the manufacture of colorants (i.e. azo pigments) that are in turn used in inks to print on FCMs such as paper napkins (FPF reported) and bakery bags, the BfR further explains. “Several PAA have carcinogenic and mutagenic properties,” the BfR highlights. Therefore, “in colorful printed paper napkins and bakery bags, as well as other food contact materials, several PAA can pose a health risk if they transfer to the food.”

The BfR recommends restricting the transfer of PAAs classified as carcinogenic to food, specifying that they “should not be detectable with an analytical detection limit of 0.002 milligrams per kilogram of food or food simulant, which is five times less than the current total limit value.” For consumers “the option exists of avoiding the use of printed paper packagings or napkins (color range yellow-orange-red) when storing foods in the household over longer periods,” the BfR suggests.

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BfR (June 22, 2017). “Frequently asked questions about printing inks and primary aromatic amines in food contact materials.