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An Investigation of Functional Barriers Currently used by the Food Industry and an Assessment of Their Efficacy


Information on the use of barriers in food contact applications was obtained from a study of packaging systems currently available in UK supermarkets. Forty packaging materials were purchased, their compositions determined and thickness measured. To establish the performance of the materials as barriers, an EU recognised migration model is applied. Following this theoretical approach, the ability of selected food contact materials to act as functional barriers under their defined conditions of use is investigated experimentally.

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A functional barrier may be considered to be a barrier consisting of one or more layers which either reduces the migration of authorised substances below their specific migration limit (SML) or reduces the migration of non-authorised substances into foods or food simulants to a not detectable level.
The concept of a functional barrier has been proposed for inclusion in regulations on plastic food contact materials and articles. Although functional barriers are mainly associated with the use of recycled plastics for food packaging the concept has general relevance and may, in principle, be applied to any type of multi-layer structure.
Any barrier layer will need to prevent/reduce chemical migration from one or more of the following sources:
an adhesive used in a laminate.
a non-food contact plastic layer
non-food contact paper/board layer
a printing ink or coating applied to the non food contact surface of a packaging material.
There are many chemical substances present in these sources. This project will establish the ability of selected systems to act as functional barriers to migration.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="; target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.

Castle, Laurence
Central Science Laboratory
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