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Risks of new trends concerning materials and objects in contact with food (R-11880)

Due to constant pressure from consumers and authorities to reduce the use of fossil-based plastic, the FCM industry is forced to develop substitute materials. While these substitute materials need to be environmentally friendly, they also have to be safe for consumers. Indeed, FCM composed of resources extracted from biomass can contain contaminants co-extracted from the raw products (e.g. pesticide residues, metals) as well as process contaminants (e.g. acrylamide) or other components (e.g. nanoparticles). Many of them can be classified as CMR and/or (possible) endocrine disruptors. Alternatively, packaging waste can also be reduced by selling food in bulk. Customers often use their own containers to buy and store the food, which complicates the evaluation of the potential risks. Both trends have in common that they can represent an allergenic risk. While for substitute materials the risk is mostly related to the starting materials, the allergenic risks of bulk sales are oriented to potential cross contamination and accessibility/tracebility of allergen information throughout the supply chain. In this study, the new trends related to FCM and their potential health risks for the consumer will be investigated. First, an in-depth market survey will be performed in order to map all new trends (i.e. substitute materials and bulk sales) already present on the market or in the pipeline. The results will be compiled in a matrix that will serve for the selection of the FCM samples. Next, the (potential) migrants will be identified using both targeted and untargeted analytical methodologies. Also, the presence of nanoparticles will be evaluated by analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Afterwards, the hazard (i.e. CMR and/or endocrine disrupting properties) of the identified migrants will be characterized based on literature data as well as through the use of in sillico tools (e.g. VEGA Toolbox, Derek Nexus). Finally, the allergenicity related to these new trends will be evaluated. The results of this study will support the decision making of the Belgian authorities on the potential risks of these new FCM-related trends.
Date:1 Jun 2021  →  Today
Keywords:biobased food packaging, bulk sales, health risks
Disciplines:Materials recycling and valorisation
Project type:Collaboration project