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Migration of Bisphenol A from Polycarbonate Plastic Food Contact Materials and Articles


Twenty polycarbonate retail samples were obtained covering a variety of food contact applications. These include drinking vessels, cutlery, tableware and cookware. The identity of the plastic for each sample was confirmed as polycarbonate using infrared spectrometry.
Migration tests were performed in order to measure any BPA transfer (migration) from the polycarbonate plastic. Initially the migration tests were conducted using food simulants. Food simulants are liquids used for practical reasons to simulate real foods. The four conventional EU food simulants as given in Directive 97/48/EEC are: water; 3% aqueous acetic acid; 10% aqueous ethanol; and olive oil. Food simulants were selected for the migration tests according to the intended use of the sample and sample type. The test conditions of exposure time of the samples to the simulant(s) and temperature were chosen to represent the worst foreseeable conditions of use for each sample. The guidelines set out in CEN standard EN 13130-1 (Guide to the test methods for the specific migration of substances from plastics into food and food simulants and the determination of substances in plastics and the selection of conditions of exposure to food simulants) were followed as closely as practically possible. All migration tests were conducted in triplicate. Blank food simulants, i.e. not in contact with the samples, were analysed alongside the migration tests.
Selected samples, for which BPA migration was observed, were tested using real foods. The foods selected were soup, pasta sauce and skinless salmon fillets.

Since many polycarbonate articles are intended to be reused, selected samples were tested for migration of BPA under repeat use conditions with both food simulants and real foods.
The majority of the migration tests were conducted using realistic conditions of use, however in a few cases it was necessary to cut the samples for practical reasons when testing with food simulants. 'Spiking' food simulants and foods with known amounts of BPA and measuring the recovery ensured the validity of all experiments.

More information

Polycarbonate is a plastic, which because of its resistance to both temperature and breakage is used in a variety of food contact applications. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic. It is an authorised monomer for the manufacture of plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food and has been assigned a specific migration limit of 3 mg/kg in food or food simulants in EU Directive 2002/72. However, this value will be reduced to 0.6 mg/kg in the first amendment to the Directive following re-evaluation of the tolerable daily intake (TDI) by the Scientific Committee on Food. BPA may remain in the plastic after manufacture and may subsequently transfer (migrate) into foods.
This project was undertaken in order to investigate any materials and applications that could give rise to the migration of BPA from polycarbonate articles into food and therefore help identify any potential risk to the consumer from exposure to BPA from polycarbonate.
<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>.

Pira International
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