Last updated on 3 August 2010
Survey of primary aromatic amine migration from nylon kitchen utensils
Food Survey Information Sheet 01/10
This is the second of a four-year programme of surveys investigating the chemical migration of substances from materials and articles in contact with food.
Many PAAs are considered toxic and some are considered to be possible causes of cancer in humans. They may be found in multilayer films which are commonly used in food packaging, however proper preparation and curing of these films means that the PAAs should not be present.
There have been many notifications issued in recent years, via the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), indicating that primary aromatic amines (PAAs) are transferring to food from nylon kitchen utensils, particularly those imported from the Far East. This survey was commissioned to find out whether the UK is now free from these non-compliant products.
In total, 107 nylon kitchen utensils were tested for PAA migration to see whether they comply with the rules in the fourth amendment to Commission Directive 2002/72/EC. The directive states that the release of PAAs from plastic materials and articles should not be detected into food or food simulant. The analytical method used should have a limit of detection of PAA of 10 parts per billion (ppb) (i.e. 10 micrograms/kilogram (µg/kg)) is equivalent to a detection limit of 1.7 micrograms/decimetre squared (µg/dm2).
Migration was detected from 35 of the 107 samples tested. 25 of these were produced in China, one in India and the remaining nine were of unknown origin.
Of the 13 types of PAAs were tested for, only aniline and 4,4’-methylenedianiline were detected, with levels ranging from just above 10ppb (1.7 µg/dm2) to over 9,000 ppb (1,500 µg/dm2).
At least three articles from each sample set were tested for PAA migration. In some cases, the levels of PAAs detected varied within each set, resulting in both compliant and non-compliant results for individual articles from the same sample set. This variation might be explained by inconsistencies in the manufacturing processes of the articles.
Where PAAs were found in utensils the Agency took immediate action, working with local enforcement officers and suppliers, to ensure that non-compliant goods were withdrawn from the market. The European Commission and other EU member states were also informed so that they could take any necessary action.