EU funded research programs about food contact materials

3rd framework program 4th framework program 5th framework program 6th framework program 7th framework program
past and present project about food contact legislation

Projects performed under the 4th Framework program



Project summary: Evaluating safety, effectiveness, economic-environmental impact And Consumer acceptance of active and Intelligent Packagings, for amending European food packaging regulations
Objective: The application and development of active and intelligent packaging concepts are restricted in Europe because of the strict regulations for food packaging, the lack of knowledge about consumer acceptance and limited experience with these concepts in the food industry. Active concepts actively extend shelf life, by absorption of e.g. Oxygen, ethylene of moisture or by release of anti-oxidative or anti-microbial agents. Intelligent concepts monitor the quality of packed food, e.g. Indicators for gas leaks, time-temperature history or spoilage. In the USA, Japan and Australia, these packagings are already successfully applied for shelf life extension of mildly preserved foods and monitoring of food quality and safety. The projects aims at establishing, effectiveness, safety, consumer acceptance, economical and environmental impact of existing concepts (in the USA, Japan etc.) By an independent group of institutions throughout Europe. Based upon the capability studies and discussion with legislative authorities, a proposal will be drafted including suggestions for amendments in the European food packaging regulations to allow these concepts in the near future in Europe. The regulation of active and intelligent concepts will create opportunities for the food industry to develop and apply these concepts, so obtaining a competitive position with respect to the USA and Japan. In addition, the ongoing project results will be discussed with European representatives of the consumer alliance, the retail, the food and packaging industry and authorities involved in regulatory affairs of food packagings at national and European level. Moreover, two leading companies from the food and packaging industry participate, which stimulates the practical application of the validated concepts for European products. The discussions with the representatives and involvement of industrial partners ensure a flexible implementation and broad acceptation of active and intelligent packagings.



Objective: Packaging materials with satisfying barrier properties for modified atmosphere applications nearly always exist of multilayer systems, with a combination of different polymeric materials. For example polyvinylchloride and oriented polypropylene exhibit a very low permeability for water vapour, whereas polyvinylalcohol is known for its good barrier properties against oxygen. Biodegradable packaging made from starch is normally not suited for packaging because of it's highly hydrophylic nature and it's low mechanical properties. A recently newly developed technology based on polymerclay nanocomposites processing most likely can also upgrade the hydrophylic and mechanical properties of starch based films. These films are intrinsically biodegradable and suitable for food packaging applications. Homogeneously dispersing nanometre size layered silicates, with high length/thickness ratios, in a polymer significantly improves mechanical and more importantly barrier properties of the polymer matrix. Starch is an inexpensive biodegradable raw material that is available in large quantities. Essential for a good quality starch is a material with a high molecular weight amylose and a low amylopectine content. In order to transform starch into a thermoplastic material suitable for food packaging applications it needs to be chemically modified and destructured in a processing step. The general goal of the project is to develop a new biodegradable food packaging material with a low permeability for oxygen, carbondioxide, nitrogen and water vapour, by homogeneously dispersing functionalised layered silicates (clay minerals) in thermoplastic starch via polymer melt processing techniques. This general goal will be achieved by means of the following specific objectives and tasks: (1) modification of layered silicates, ie. Clay minerals, with anew class of non-ionic modifying agents in order to compatibilise the clay with thermoplastic starch; (2) development of a polymer melt process, compatible with current polymer processing techniques, to homogeneously dispers modified clay particles in thermoplastic starch in order to produce starch-clay nanocoposite films; (3) characteriation of the nanocomposite films with respect to mechanical and barrier properties, thermal stability and biodegradability; (4) optimisation of the polymer melt processing by adjusting the chemical structure of the starch, the clay modification agents and the clay content; (5) development of prototype packaging film material for food applications, including a full characterisation of the prototypes; (6) upscaling of the modification of the clay minerals and the dispersion of the modified clay minerals in thermoplastic starch via polymer melt processing to a 5 kg pilot plant scale.
This proposal brings together four private firms from three European countries and four R&D public institutions from three European countries. All of them have a great deal of experience working on either biodegradable polymers, polymer processing, polymer characterisation, food packaging development and food packaging charcterisation. The composition of the research teams (industrial and laboratory chemists, basic and applied researchers) guarantee a multidisciplinary and realistic approach and the practical application of the results. The most relevant areas within the EU FAIR programme for the project BIONANOPACK are 3.3.6, 3.3.4 and 3.3.1

Migration modeling  

The overall objective of this project is to demonstrate the current capabilities of migration models and to validate the application records.
The intermediate objectives are:
1.1 Collect all available diffusion and migration data in order to complete and combine the existing data banks and verify their reliability.
1.2 Dcmonstrate the applicability of the current models for polyolefins.
1.3 Verify thc applicability of the migration equations derived from Fick's laws in non-polyolefin systems with Pseudo-Fickian or Non-Fickian behaviour, considering worst case situations. Polymers with high glass temperatures alld polymers with a high concentration of plasticizers fall into this category.
1.4 Extend the model to include interactions between polymer and food, especially at high temperatures.
which produce higher migration rates.
1.5 Consider the partition coefficient Kp/F-values, in order to allow more realistic estimations avoiding exaggerated worst case migration values.
1.6 Incorporate thc mass transfer resistance in solid foods and liquid foods with high viscosity.
1.7 Submit the migration model to CEN for Standardisation.
1.8 identity research topics in order to define the experimental basis for a further extension of the application fields.
. 10 partners from G EU-countries, representing government
research laboratories, University institutes, independent research companies and European professional industry associations will cooperate to ensure an effective exchange along the "packaging chain" (additive and polymer producer, converter, packaging industry). Industry will input technical production know-how, while research partners will contribute their experience in migration testing and modeling.
. The "Know-how" of migration tcsting and modelling is located in different EU-countries with Centres of Competence in 4 Membcr States. Under the Thematic Network the know-how exchange witll rcspect to applicalion of Migration Models will be drastically enhanced.
. Thc result will enable the Commission DG III-E-I to develop the regulatory tools to establish a harmonised system to control food contact materials involving all EU-countries under Directive 90/ 1 28/EEC. This will promotc alld improve both the "Single Market" and consumer safety.


Project summary: Programme on the recyclability of food packaging materials with respect to food safety considerations-polyethylene terephthalate and cellulosic fibres

Objective: Food packaging regulations in Europe require that the packaging materials must not cause mass transfer (migration) of harmful substances to the food. Considerable scientific progress has been made in understanding and modelling the transfer of adventitious hazardous substances from recycled plastics into foodstuffs. Most of this knowledge has been elaborated within the recently finished EU project AIR-CT931014. One of the main conclusions of this project was that PET as a low diffusivity plastic and is the most promising polymer for reuse as a food packaging material. Nevertheless, the practical translation of this progress into innovative industrial solutions is still awaited. One of the reasons has typical 'European' character and can be substantiated by the fact that the European legal requirements in this respect are not yet clearly and uniformly defined. As a con sequence, economic and generally recognized test methods are not available so far. With respect to PET, there is clearly an obvious reason for the industrial hesitation in launching advanced food packaging applications. In the whole chain o f knowledge on diffusion and migration into and out of PET - which allows for in stance to correlate a known initial concentration in the plastic with the resulting time-dependent concentration in a foodstuff - there remains one missing link : This is the still open but highly important question of the nature and concentration of actual contaminants found in re-collected PET. Filling up this gap wit h analytical data relevant for the whole of Europe, and then linking this statistical picture with the available knowledge on PET diffusion behaviour, would enable to draw scientifically sound and convincing conclusions about the safety of reusing PET. With respect to recovered paper and board as food packaging materials, the situation is practically the reverse of that described for plastics above. Considerable work has focused on the compositional analysis of virgin and recycled fibres to identify contaminants which could potentially be harmful to the consumer. However, little systematic work has been focused on the interactions of such substances between paper/board fibres and foodstuffs, and taking also polymeric coatings and plastic layers on paper and board into account. Again, as with the PET situation, there is a missing link in the chain of knowledge about t he migration from cellulosic fibres which needs to be made to achieve analogous goals as mentioned above for recycled PET and to enter new pathways in the enormous food packaging market of paper and board. This topic gains automatically eve n more importance since it is the clear intention of the European Commission ser vices, now nearing completion of food contact plastics regulations, to bring also paper and board within the scope of specific European regulations on food cont act materials.
The objectives of the project are (i) to facilitate industrial innovation and to harmonise legislative enforcement of new environmental packaging requirements stemming from the Directive 94/62/EEC on packaging and pack aging waste, by (ii): Drawing up a statistical overview of the nature and extent of contaminants in PET recovered from the food packaging market, in order to establish an evaluation platform for the quality and safety-in-use of recycled P ET plastics for food packaging and (ii) Generating a scientific understanding of the physico-chemical behaviour of chemical contaminants on paper and board fibres as a basis for safety evaluation and definition of criteria for the appropriate reuse of recycled fibres for food packaging.
The aim of the project is to overcome the current hesitation and inhibitions to innovation felt by many SME companies who want to produce new and environmentally-friendly food packaging but who cannot operate in an uncertain legislative framework. Simultaneously practical recommendations and guidance to the Commission for appropriate legislation on recycled materials will be offered.
Final workshop proceedings: download pdf (introduction; presentations; posters1 & posters2)

Food Biopack  

Biobased food packaging quality assurance and food safety
Final workshop proceedings: download (pdf)
Final Report: download (pdf)

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