In an article published on April 3, 2020, in the peer-reviewed journal Food Chemistry, Itsaso Zabaleta and colleagues from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Spain, reported on the screening of twenty five per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in paper and board packaging materials and summarized their findings about factors influencing PFAS migration into food simulants at different contact durations and temperature conditions.

The author found undetectable PFAS levels in all samples of paper and board food packaging except the microwave popcorn bags sourced in Spain and China. PFAS occurrence and concentration was lower in the bags of Spanish brands compared to the ones from China, so the authors emphasized “a great reduction in fluorochemicals in relation with [a] previous analysis” performed in 2017 (FPF reported). The composition of PFAS in the popcorn bags from China did not show any significant differences compared to earlier analysis results. In addition to food packaging samples, the authors analyzed PFAS content in pet food bags, where “high concentrations of PFASs were detected.”

Short and long carbon chain PFASs showed higher and lower migration, respectively, into 50% ethanol food simulant compared to 95% ethanol. Comparison of long-term migration (6 months) of PFASs into real foods and dry food simulant Tenax® revealed in some cases a significant underestimation of migration when using this food simulant, most significantly for the case of short chain PFAS migration into milk powder and less so for rice and cereals.

Overall, the authors concluded that “the storage of dry food in packaging materials containing high concentrations of PFASs could be considered as risky especially when contacting fatty food. However, it is worth mentioning that . . . a reduction of PFASs amounts in packaging materials has taken place and, therefore, the risk of this class of compounds to enter the food chain has decreased significantly.”


Zabaleta, I., et al. (2020). “Occurrence of per- and polyfluorinated compounds in paper and board packaging materials and migration to food simulants and foodstuffs.Food Chemistry 321: 126746.