Last updated on 15 November 2006
Benzophenone and 4-hydroxybenzophenone migration from food packaging into foodstuffs
Food Survey Information Sheet
This information sheet reports the results of a survey that has tested foods that may have been exposed to benzophenone and/or 4-hydroxybenzophenone as a chemical migrant from either primary or secondary printed packaging.
There are no specific EU controls for migration from inks and their associated coatings, but there is a Group Tolerable Daily Intake (Group TDI) for benzophenone and 4-hydroxybenzophenone of 0.01 milligram/kilogram (mg/kg) bodyweight (bw). There is specific legislation for food contact plastics, Directive 2002/72/EC, in which there is a specific migration limit (SML) for benzophenone of 0.6 mg/kg. This survey has been undertaken to determine whether the Group TDI is being met for foods packaged in printed paper or board, or to which a printed label has been attached to the primary packaging, and whether the SML is being observed for foods packaged in printed plastics.
The survey was conducted in two phases. In Phase One, 350 foodstuffs were tested that had been packaged directly or indirectly in printed paper or board (virgin or recycled), or in packaging to which a printed sticky label was attached. In Phase Two, 115 foodstuffs packaged in printed plastic were tested.
The presence of 4-hydroxybenzophenone was not confirmed in any of the Phase One or Phase Two samples tested.
The presence of benzophenone was confirmed in 61 of the 350 samples (17%) tested in Phase One. Levels found do not pose a health concern. Based on these results, estimated intake of benzophenone was less than the toxicological Group TDI of 0.01 mg/kg bw set by the European Commission Scientific Committee on Food (SCF). Intake was estimated at 0.0012-0.0015 mg/kg bw, ie 12-15% of the Group TDI.
There was little evidence of benzophenone in foods to which a printed label has been attached to the primary packaging.
Following the previous survey (FSIS 6/00) industry was asked by the Agency to keep migration to a minimum. Limited success has been achieved since then. The highest level of benzophenone measured in food has fallen from 7.3 mg/kg to 4.5 mg/kg. Mean results were comparable: 0.90 mg/kg (n=49) with a standard deviation of 1.5 and 0.93 mg/kg (n=61) with a standard deviation of 1.1 in 2000 and 2006 respectively.
There was some evidence that particular foods and printed packaging formats, together with storage conditions, may be associated with migration of benzophenone. Migration from printed paper or board packaging into foodstuffs stored at low temperature should be considered by food manufacturers and packers when deciding appropriate packaging formats.
All samples tested in Phase Two complied with the legal limit. The presence of benzophenone was confirmed in four of the 115 samples packaged in printed plastic. The maximum level found was 0.15 mg/kg (one quarter of the SML).