Element residues in food contact plastics and their migration into food simulants, measured by inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry.

Research paper by P J PJ Fordham, J W JW Gramshaw, H M HM Crews, L L Castle

Indexed on: 01 Sep '95Published on: 01 Sep '95Published in: Food additives and contaminants


Polymers intended for food contact use have been analysed for inorganic residues which can be attributed to a range of substances employed as polymerization aids (e.g. catalysts), or to additives incorporated into the polymer to fulfil a specific task (e.g. lubricants). The migration of these residues into food simulants was studied. Residues were determined by using the multi-element capability of Inductively-Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Semi-quantitative analysis was carried out on acid digests of polymer materials, obtained by microwave heating in sealed Teflon containers. Limits of detection in the polymer were generally less than 1 mg/kg. Migration experiments were carried out with three food simulants and under two sets of conditions. Analysis for element residues was performed directly or, in the case of olive oil, on an emulsion of the simulant. Migration of certain elements into aqueous simulants was observed: Zr from polystyrene (650 micrograms/kg), Sb from polyethylene terephthalate (4 micrograms/kg) and Mg from acrylonitrile/butadiene/styrene copolymer (50 micrograms/kg). In all cases, where limits of detection permit, the levels which migrated from polymer to stimulant were less than proposed limits on migration.