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To Identify Chemicals that Could Migrate into Foodstuffs from Pigments and Dyes, and Measure the Migration of these Chemicals into Food Simulants

Pira International
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This project will (with collaboration from industry) select the most commonly-used pigments and dyestuffs intended for plastic food contact applications. By reference to industry and by chemical analysis, impurities and surface treatment chemicals in the colorants will be identified. Plastic samples will be obtained containing these colorants and migration of substances into suitable food simulants will be determined. The levels of the colorants and associated impurities in the plastic samples will be measured analytically and, using migration models based on Fickian diffusion principles, migration of the chemicals of interest will be calculated. These values will be compared to the measured values and the suitability of mathematical modelling for these materials will be established.
More information
Colorants are used in food contact plastics to make products more appealing to the consumer and to reinforce a product brand image. A range of colorants can be used either individually or in mixtures to obtain a particular effect or colour.

Colorants' producers are based in many countries throughout the world.

No migration limits are set for these substances in the European Commission Plastics Directive 2002/72/EC (EC 2002) as amended, nor does any other Directive specifically deal with this class of substance. However, there has been a Council of Europe Resolution, which is not legally binding but gives guidance on their use.

Little information was available regarding potential migrants that may be present in colorants used in food contact plastics. Several different grades of a colorant may be available, all of which can nominally be described using the same identifying name, for example Colour Index (CI) Pigment White 6.

In addition, to achieve a desired effect colorants can be blended with each other so that a particular plastic may contain several different colorants. The aim of this study was to provide data on compounds including impurities and intentionally added substances, such as surface treatment chemicals, that may be present in the most commonly-used colorants. Information obtained would be used to help inform decisions on how best to control these substances.

Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the Food Standards Agency Research webpage.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project number
Predictive Microbiology