Styrene concentrations in German and Italian refrigerated dairy products


Scientists assess styrene levels in polystyrene food packaging, migration into refrigerated dairy products, in 50% ethanol, as well as factors influencing migration; report styrene migration of 5 to 30 µg/kg food at the best before date; find food contact area, temperature and time rather than fat content influence styrene migration

In the EU, styrene is currently authorized for use in food contact materials without a specific restriction, but the European Commission is currently considering developing a migration limit for styrene into food (FPF reported). In 2016, the US State of California added styrene to its Proposition 65 list of carcinogens (FPF reported), and in 2018 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that styrene is “probably carcinogenic to humans” (FPF reported). In an article published on July 17, 2022, in the journal Foods, Valeria Guazzotti and co-authors from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, Freising, Germany, aimed to evaluate styrene concentrations in dairy products and the main factors influencing migration.

Guazzotti and co-authors purchased 17 dairy products, including yogurt, whipped cream, sour cream, and coffee creamers, with different fat contents packaged in polystyrene (PS) from German and Italian supermarkets in 2021. All but the coffee creamers were indicated to be refrigerated products meaning to have a shelf life of 40 days at 5 °C. The scientists stored the samples at 5 °C (exception: coffee creamer at room temperature) and determined styrene levels in the product on the best before date, as well as partly also 20 days before and 15 days after. For the analysis, they used purge and trap gas chromatography coupled with both mass spectrometry and a flame ionization detector. Styrene concentrations remaining in the packaging after emptying were also assessed by acetone-based extraction experiments.

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Food Packaging Forum, 10-08-22