Switzerland: 25% of PVC lid gaskets exceed plasticizer migration limits


In a short communication article published on August 10, 2022, in the journal Food Packaging and Shelf Life, Maurus Biedermann and co-authors from the Official Food Control Laboratory of the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland, share the results of a Swiss national campaign on the compliance of migration of plasticizers from the gaskets for lids into oily food in glass jars. The campaign is a follow-up to two pan European campaigns conducted in 2012 and 2015 that observed one-quarter to one-third of analyzed samples to be non-compliant with the specific migration level (SML) as prescribed by the regulation for plastic food contact materials (Regulation (EU) No 10/2011).

In the current campaign, all 20 local food safety enforcement authorities in Switzerland as well as the authority of Liechtenstein took a total of 109 food samples containing free edible oil packaged in glass jars. Samples were stored for 6 months or until the best-before date and shaken once a month before chemical analysis. Four analytical methods were applied to analyze all plasticizers in food, investigating (i) epoxidized soybean oil (ESBO), (ii) polyadipates (PA), (iii) remaining more volatile plasticizers, and (iv) the composition of the gasket. To assess the samples’ regulatory compliance, measured individual plasticizer levels were compared to their respective SML as prescribed by Regulation (EU) No 10/2011. The sum of all approved plasticizers was also evaluated against its approved limit of 60 mg/kg food.

Although they tried to avoid sampling lids with gaskets made out of materials other than polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the authors reported that 26% of the samples were found not to be made of PVC . Compared to the two campaigns run a decade ago, the proportion of non-PVC sealing plastics was higher in the current campaign. According to Biedermann et al., this also resulted in a higher proportion of compliant samples in the current compared to the previous campaigns. A study performed in 2021 analyzing cap gaskets of bottled beverages from 141 brands found that 66% of the cap liners were made of PVC and gaskets of 50 brands contained ortho-phthalates (FPF reported).

Concerning the samples with PVC-based sealant, Biedermann and co-authors reported that the proportion of non-compliant samples was similar between the current and the previous campaigns. Of the 109 foods, 27 were not compliant with Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 since migration was exceeded for ESBO (11 samples), PA (3 samples), acetyltributylcitrate (ATBC, CAS 77-90-7, 3 samples), di-(2-ethylhexyl)-terephthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7, 2 samples), and/or the sum of approved plasticizers (25 samples). Moreover, three samples had unauthorized plasticizers migrating into the food which also resulted in their non-compliance. Overall, samples from smaller food producers more often exceeded regulatory SML than those from larger supermarket chains or brands.

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Food Packaging Forum, 16-09-22
; https://www.foodpackagingforum.org/news/switzerland-25-of-pvc-lid-gaskets-exceed-plasticizer-migration-limits