Tomatoes in box

Paper and board packages safe for food

Tuesday 22 Oct 13

Contamination in packages and in package printing inks may set off on food. A new analysis concept helps printing houses document whether carton packages meet legal requirements. In a new report, the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, describes this concept, which may help printing houses deliver products of high and documented quality.

Food producers and authorities put forward ever-increasing demands to printing houses which produce carton and paper packages for food. The quality must be high and documented, which is why printing houses must follow good production practices.

Based on existing rules in this field and having performed chemical analyses of the setoff from paper packages printed with various types of printing ink and varnishes, the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark together with company partners has developed a new analysis concept, taking as a basis conditions applying for printing houses. This analysis concept is intended as an aid tool for printing houses.

Overview of health-damaging substances

The production of packages involves many processes, materials and chemicals. The printing houses need to have an overview of these elements in order to document the package quality. Packaging materials may contain health-damaging substances, which can migrate into the food inside the package.

For example, setoff of phthalates or diisopropyl naphthalene from package to food may occur because the carton itself is produced of recycled pulp with residues of ink for newsprint and of carbonless copy papers which contained the damaging substances. The above-mentioned analysis concept inspires and helps producers get an overview of the demands put forward by authorities and to provide the necessary documentation for the package quality.

Reinforced dialogue with suppliers and customers

Printing houses cannot alone fulfil the objective of living up to demands of customers and authorities. Producers of printing ink and suppliers of paper and carton are significant co-players as they can contribute to providing information about the possible content of health-damaging substances in raw materials.

Therefore, printing houses should be offered assistance to enter into the necessary dialogue with their suppliers in order to get the correct product data about the material used for producing the packages. It is just as important that the printing houses learn from the customers with which food products the packages will get in contact and under which conditions of application, in particular as regards durability, storage temperature and air humidity.

The report in which the analysis concept is described contains, amongst others, an overview of the most important rules and guidelines given by authorities and industry associations in this field and of materials and substance groups used when producing the packages.

Read more

See the report (in Danish only): Fødevareemballager af trykt papir og pap. Udvikling og validering af analysekoncept (pdf).

Enpro ApS, a Danish consultancy company, has participated in this project. The report was prepared in cooperation with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Molecular Interactions, a Danish foundation, and Mammens, a Danish cartonage producer.

Read the article in the industry magazine IN-Pak, No. 9 of 21 October 2013: Projekt om sikre fødevareemballager af trykt papir og pap. (a description of the project mentioned above, in Danish only).

Read more about research in food contact materials at the National Food Institute.