On April 21, 2020, the Food Packaging Forum (FPF) published two documents on microplastics. The first is a background article that provides a short summary on microplastics in the context of food packaging. The second is a dossier on microplastics that provides readers with more detailed information and an extended reference list on the topic.
Microplastics are small plastic fragments, beads, and fibers that typically have a size below 5 mm. Such tiny plastic particles have been detected in all environmental compartments and in biota. For humans, food is one exposure source of microplastics, but the contribution of food packaging and processing to the contamination with microplastics has not yet been studied in detail. When analyzing microplastic particles, many different properties need to be addressed, as they differ in size, shape, surface characteristics, source, material type, and chemical composition. However, the analysis of plastic particles in the nanometer range remains an even larger challenge. Preliminary data on the health hazards indicate that especially nanoparticles are of particular concern due to their possible ability to penetrate biological barriers. Attempts to assess the risk of microplastics to human health concluded that more exposure and toxicity data are needed. Similarly, environmental risk assessments are currently rather scarce.
FPF (April 21, 2020). “Microplastics.”
FPF dossier (April 2020). “Microplastics.” DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3725591 (pdf)