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Literature Review, Analytical Screening and Chemical Migration Studies on Irradiated Food Packaging

Institutions
Central Science Laboratory
Start date
2007
End date
2009
Objective
This research project will investigate the effect of irradiation on chemical migration from food packaging.
More information
Background:
Irradiation of packaged food is increasing with more than 60 products being approved by more than 50 countries. Applications include poultry and poulty products, red meats such as hamburger meat, seafood, dried herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables. In the UK however, only the irradiation of some spices is currently approved. Food packaging may be irradiated:
  • During its manufacture, for example to cure printing inks
  • To sterilise it before being filled with a foodstuff
  • To control or eliminate spoilage organisms
The effect of ionising radiation on basic polymers has been studied in depth, especially for medical polymers. However, not enough is known about the effect on finished food packaging materials that contain additives, adhesives, inks etc. These chemicals can be present in high amounts and are likely to be more reactive than the basic polymers. Ionising radiation can cause chemical decomposition to form low molecular weight entities with increased migration characteristics which may be of interest.

Research Approach:
A literature review will be prepared describing the current state of knowledge on irradiated foods and their packaging materials. The review will also describe the packaging materials which may appear, irradiated, on the UK market in the future. Examples of these will be irradiated using carefully controlled doses of gamma, electron beam or x-ray irradiation and these irradiated materials analysed side-by-side with non-irradiated materials to identify any radioloysis products with the potential to migrate into foods. The focus will be on low molecular weight substances including volatiles.

Should potential migrants be detected, the extent of any potential migration will be estimated by migration modelling. If the modelling studies identify any substances present that could migrate into foods at levels of potential interest then this will be checked experimentally using foods or food simulants.

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
A03068
Categories
Food Preparation and Handling
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game