An article from Anda-Flores et al. published online on May 28, 2021, in the peer-reviewed journal Food Packaging and Shelf Life evaluated 14 polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based cling films available on the Mexican market for their phthalate content, their overall migration of chemicals, and specific migration of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) and di(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DEHT, CAS 6422-86-2). The study detected DEHP in five and DEHT in two out of the 14 methanolic extracts using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Subsequently, the scientists performed migration experiments with the phthalate-containing samples using fatty (50 % ethanol), aqueous (10% ethanol), and acetic (3 % acetic acid) food simulants. While only two cling films had a high specific migration of DEHP, the other samples had a high overall migration “indicating the presence of non-phthalate additives in their composition.” Overall migration was highest in the fatty food simulant and exceeded the legal limits established by the European Union and Common Market of the South (Mercosur). Likewise, for the films that contained high levels of DEHP, the estimated migration of DEHP into a portion of cheese exceeded the specific migration limit of 1.5 mg/kg set by the legislation. On the contrary, migration of DEHP into ground beef and pineapple slices did not exceed the limit.
In another recent publication, Haonan Hou and colleagues from China Agricultural University, Beijing, China, also analyzed the migration of phthalates into food but with a focus on adhesive materials. In the study published by the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the authors reported phthalate transfer from adhesive labels and tapes to fruit and vegetable peels, and permeation into the deep pulp within days, in realistic use conditions. According to their findings, the peel surface quality and the food’s lipid content influence migration and enrichment of chemicals. For instance, the apple peel appeared to be easier to penetrate than the thicker avocado peel. The authors also measured the total concentrations of 11 phthalates in the adhesive labels and tapes themselves by applying the samples to solvent extraction followed by gas chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (GC–MS/MS). Depending on the sample, they detected between 7.44 and 30.51 mg phthalates/m2. DEHP (also studied by Anda-Flores et al.), di-n-butyl phthalate (DIBP, CAS 84-74-2), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP, CAS 84-74-2) together accounted for nearly 90% of the analyzed phthalates. In order to reduce consumer exposure, the authors suggest “to avoid direct contact of the labels or tapes to the edible parts of food” or to “remove the labels from fruits as soon as possible.”
Anda-Flores Y. et al. (2021). “Effect of assay conditions on the migration of phthalates from polyvinyl chloride cling films used for food packaging in Mexico.” Food Packaging and Shelf Life (published online May 28, 2021).
Hou H. et al. (2021). “Occurrence and migration of phthalates in adhesive materials to fruits and vegetables.” Journal of Hazardous Materials (published online June 2, 2021).