On July 7, 2014 the scientific peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE published the study “Characterization of estrogen and androgen activity of food contact materials by different in vitro bioassays (YES, YAS, ERalpha and AR CALUX) and chromatographic analysis (GC-MS, HPLC-MS)” by Austrian researchers (Mertl et al. 2014). The scientists from the OFI Austrian Research Institute for Chemistry and Technology in Vienna, Austria tested chemical migrants of various different food contact materials (FCMs) for their ability to mimic the natural hormones estrogen and testosterone in cell-based, so called in vitro bioassays. Johannes Mertl and colleagues used two different test systems to compare results, namely the recombinant yeast assays YES (yeast estrogen screen) and YAS (yeast androgen screen), and the ERα (estrogen receptor) and AR (androgen receptor) CALUX, a bioassay based on human bone cancer cells. The aim of the study was to evaluate bioassays for their suitability to analyse FCMs for their endocrine disrupting activity. Various FCMs were found to exhibit hormonal activity (or inhibit hormonal action), including polystyrene, polyolefine, composite film, and food carton samples. The authors conclude that the human cell-based bioassays are more suitable for such analysis because they have (1) a lower limit of detection and (2) less false positive results found compared to the yeast based assays. A more detailed summary of the new research article and an analysis written by Food Packaging Forum can be found here.
Mertl, J. et al. (2014) “Characterization of estrogen and androgen activity of food contact materials by different in vitro bioassays (YES, YAS, ERalpha and AR CALUX) and chromatographic analysis (GC-MS, HPLC-MS)”. PLOS ONE, 9(7) (published online July 7, 2014).