Institut Kirchhoff Berlin GmbH

Testing the functionality of barrier films (permeation measurements)

Background

Food packaging made from used paper can be contaminated by undesired materials, which could transfer to the foodstuff it contains. According to article 3, paragraph 1 of EC Directive 1935/2004 of the European Council and Parliament of 27 October 2004, which covers materials and objects intended to come into contact with foodstuffs, packaging materials used with food must be made according to good manufacturing practice. The aim is to ensure that under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions, it does not transfer any ingredients to the food in quantities that could possibly endanger human health, or to cause unacceptable changes to the food’s composition. In order to avoid undesired migration of these substances from the packaging material to the food it contains, barrier film or multilayer film is often used today. First of all, the film used must be tested to ensure that it forms a barrier to substances capable of migration. In order to test the barrier properties of the film, a simulation can be carried out, using selected model substances that are typically found in newsprint. Alternatively, a test for the migration of mineral oil can also be carried out, if the focus is solely on the migration of mineral oil components.

Analysis

A migration test based on that of Biedermann et al. [1] is carried out.

A piece of paper (donor) impregnated with a surrogate substance (different polarities) or mineral oil is placed in a stainless steel migration cell, and the barrier to be tested is placed on top of it. Tenax© is used as the absorption material (no direct contact with the barriers with Tenax©: the experiment setup is shown in the diagram). The sealed migration cell is then stored for a defined period and at a defined temperature. This is based on the best before date on the packaged foodstuff, or is calculated according to the Arrhenius equation in order to carry out the test at higher temperatures and so reduce the duration of the test). After storage, the Tenax© is extracted, and the extract is tested using GC-MS on the surrogate substances, or HPLC-GC-FID on mineral oil. As well as a double determination of the sample, a positive control (absorbent paper is used instead of the barrier) and a negative control (with aluminium as the barrier) are carried out.

[1] “Barriers Against the Migration from Recycled Paperboard into Food: Measuring Efficiency by Surrogate Components“ (Biedermann-Brem and Grob, Pack. Techno. Sci, 02/2014)

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