An article published on December 4, 2018, in the peer-reviewed journal Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, by Se-Jong Park and colleagues from the Food Additives and Packaging Division, National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation, Cheongju, Republic of Korea, reported on the migration of lead (Pb) and arsenic (As) from food contact paper.

The scientists analyzed 310 samples that included “14 disposable bags, 45 bakewares, 64 boxes, 14 coffee filters, 46 containers, 42 cups, 24 liquid-packaging boards, 26 plates, and 35 wrapping papers . . . collected from local markets across Korea.” Migration experiments were performed using 4% acetic acid as a food simulant at 25 °C for 10 min[utes] and at 95 °C for 30 min[utes].” Concentrations of migrating Pb and As were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

Migration was always higher at the 95 °C/30 min compared to the 25 °C/10 min condition. Pb was detected at concentrations up to 25.6 µg/kg, the highest concentration measured in the “boxes used for fried chicken or pizza.” The decreasing order of Pb migration was “box > bag > bakeware > cup > container > plate > packaging board for liquid > wrapping paper > coffee filter.” As was detected at concentrations up to 0.87 µg/kg, the highest concentration measured in coffee filters and the lowest average concentrations measured in the packaging boards for liquid.

Overall, migration of both Pb and As was “much lower than the SML of 1 mg/L for Pb and 0.1 mg/L for As suggested by Korean regulations,” the authors summarized. They further performed an assessment of human safety and concluded that “the migration of Pb and As determined in this study confirm that the human exposure was within safe levels based on the EDI [(estimated daily intake)] of food contact paper compared with the provisional tolerable weekly intake for Pb of 25 µg/kg body weight and for As of 15 µg/kg body weight.”


Park, S.-J., et al. (2018). “Migration of lead and arsenic from food contact paper into a food simulant and assessment of their consumer exposure safety.Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A (published December 4, 2018).