Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using recycled cardboard in food packaging risks contaminating food with mineral oils, study finds

Date:
June 15, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Harmful mineral oils from the printing inks used on cardboard can migrate into food if recycled cardboard is used for food packaging. It may contaminate food even if the recycled cardboard is used for the corrugated card transport box that holds individual packs. In tests on experimental packs of fine noodles, researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, found that food rapidly absorbed 10 times the recommended limit for concentration of these contaminating oils from the transport box.

Harmful mineral oils from the printing inks used on cardboard can migrate into food if recycled cardboard is used for food packaging. It may contaminate food even if the recycled cardboard is used for the corrugated card transport box that holds individual packs. In tests on experimental packs of fine noodles, researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, found that food rapidly absorbed 10 times the recommended limit for concentration of these contaminating oils from the transport box.

Related Articles


The findings were published in the latest edition of Packaging Technology and Science.

The world-recognised limit for these oils is 0.6mg in each kg of food, but researchers discovered that after standing in packaging for just six weeks, food could contain 6.1mg/kg. And this was in food that had a two-year shelf life, so it is quite possible the value could increase further over time.

Many foods such as rice, noodles, breadcrumbs, cornflakes and muesli are sold in paperboard boxes, where the recommended limit may be exceeded over 100 times. Even more foods are stored and transported in larger boxes largely consisting of recycled paperboard. The research showed that even if the food was contained in clean paperboard boxes from fresh fibres, printed with inks free of mineral oil and wrapped into a polyethylene film (also free of mineral oil); mineral oils from the corrugated card transport box far exceeded the limit.

"There is a tension between the need to recycle paper and board and the need to keep food free from high levels of these mineral oils," says Dr Koni Grob, an analytical chemist who headed the research team based at the Official Food Control and points out that none of the three presently discussed solutions are easy to put into practice.

The first approach could be to use paperboard made by recycling carefully selected, cleaner starting materials. But when the team ran tests using board with a mineral oil concentration approximately 5 times lower than usual (apparently the best feasible), the mineral oil migration into the food still exceeded the limit about 7 times. "It is unlikely that the target can be reached by this approach," says Grob.

Secondly, manufacturers could use new wood fibres when making food packaging and transport boxes. "This change would be difficult for two reasons. Firstly you can't work fresh fibres on the same machines you use for recycled fibres, and at the moment there is no machinery to produce the enormous extra amounts of fresh fibre paperboard required to replace the recycled board. Secondly, it would trigger a massive increase in the demand for wood to supply them. All the wood growing in Switzerland would not be sufficient to supply Europe with the extra amount needed -- and Switzerland is well covered by forests," says Dr Grob.

Thirdly, manufactures could introduce functional barriers against the migration of mineral oil, either as internal bags or lining the boxes with materials such as special plastics. This might be the way to go, but the technology is not ready and the recyclability of lined paperboard needs to be tested.

Many companies have realised the problem and recently some have changed their packaging materials to fresh fibre paperboard printed with inks free of mineral oil. "But they are still using recycled card in the corrugated board transport boxes which renders their efforts fruitless," says Dr Grob. "In terms of amounts of food packaging material involved, this problem exceeds all those experienced in the past. It needs to be addressed with corresponding care."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maurus Biedermann, Jan-Erik Ingenhoff, Martino Barbanera, Davide Garbini, Koni Grob. Migration of Mineral Oil into Noodles from Recycled Fibres in the Paperboard Box and the Corrugated Board Transport Box as well as from Printing Inks: A Case Study. Packaging Technology and Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/pts.937

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Using recycled cardboard in food packaging risks contaminating food with mineral oils, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615094431.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, June 15). Using recycled cardboard in food packaging risks contaminating food with mineral oils, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615094431.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Using recycled cardboard in food packaging risks contaminating food with mineral oils, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615094431.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins