Functional barriers in food contact materials (FCMs) are designed to prevent chemical migration from inner layers in multilayer structures to food. Upon barrier disruption, unregulated substances present in the inner layers may migrate to food. A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A evaluates the effectiveness of polystyrene (PS) as a functional barrier layer in colored FCMs. Researchers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated migration of solvent dyes from colored PS bowls and examined structural changes in the FCM due to its interaction with food simulants. Solvent dyes migrated from the PS bowls into coconut oil, palm kernel oil and the neutral oil Miglyol 812®. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the functional barrier was disrupted for the bowls exposed to these three food simulants and also to 10% ethanol, 50% ethanol and goat’s milk. Further testing showed that 1-dodecanol was present in the bowls. This compound was probably used as a dispersant for the dyes and aided their migration from the PS bowls into some food simulants. The Food Packaging Forum summarizes the article in a newly published report.

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FPF report “Polystyrene functional barrier in colored FCMs.


Genualdi, S. et al. (2015). “Investigation into the suitability of polystyrene as a functional barrier layer in coloured food contact materials.Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A (published online January 8, 2015).