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Safety scare chemicals to be removed from food packaging

Mineral oils are to be removed from recycled paper packaging across Europe.

The European paper packaging industry said it will begin phasing out the use of mineral oil-based inks for printing paper and board packaging, and mineral oil-based chemicals for “food contact paper and board packaging material”.

The announcement by the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) and International Confederation of Paper and Board Converters in Europe (CITPA) ink follows a food safety scare earlier this year.

Concerns were raised in March by BBC reports of research that showed food had been contaminated by mineral oil chemicals from newspaper used to make cardboard packaging.  

Food director of the British Retail Consortium Andrew Opie told MRW in March: “There isn’t currently any evidence that ink in recycled packaging poses a danger to health.

“Standards are being updated constantly as a matter of routine. The latest version of the BRC’s Global Standard For Packaging includes extra safeguards to reduce the risk of chemicals, such as ink, getting into food. Customers have no reason to be worried.”

According to scientists a normal diet will stop any real risk of harm; a person would have to be exposed to the toxins over a long period before anything adverse happened.

CEPI and CITPA said despite there being no “toxicological studies on the effects of human exposure to mineral oil traces”, the industry has already made significant progress to reduce levels in its processes and products.

They said: “To formalise and further strengthen its efforts to reduce the use of mineral oils, the industry has agreed on a European-wide self-commitment.”

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