Problematic chemicals in paper food packaging

Two recent tests reveal that it is not without problems to substitute plastic packaging with paper or board when considering the risk to human health.

A lab test of 76 samples of printed paper or board food packaging showed that the packaging materials may contain and release problematic chemicals. This included many chemicals that have not been evaluated by EFSA, the European Food Safety Agency. Almost all 76 samples contained photoinitiators, some of which are suspected to be carcinogenic or having endocrine disrupting effects. Other problematic substances were also identified.

This is reported by BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation, in their report More than a paper tiger.

Contamination in paper straws
The Food Packaging Forum reports of a Swiss test of twelve paper straws that revealed concentrations of substances that can be carcinogenic, mutagenic or migrate to the food. Some substances were found to change the taste of the drink. Sources of contamination included printing inks, contact with processing equipment and use of recycled paper.

Many food packaging manufacturers have substituted plastic with other materials, including paper. Paper and board materials in contact with food are not specifically regulated in the EU as opposed to plastic. Both BEUC and industry confederations call for EU-wide regulation of paper and board materials.

For more information on food packaging and regulation, please contact:

Helle Buchardt Boyd
Tel +45 4516 9097