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Denmark sets new limits on grease-resistant PFCs in board packaging

On 26 August, the Danish Ministry for the Environment and Food announced new advisory thresholds for the use of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in food packaging.

PFCs – like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – have long been employed as water- and grease-resistant coatings in paperboard packs. Applications include pizza boxes, greaseproof paper, and bags for convenience foods, like chips and microwavable popcorn.

The issue’s profile in Denmark was raised earlier in 2015 when a study detected levels of PFOA in all samples of microwave popcorn bags sampled from the shelves of the Coop supermarket. This lead Coop to remove the effected products from sale.

The Danish government is now proposing that no more than 0.35mg/dm2 should pass from paperboard into foods. It estimates this is equivalent to 5mg/kg of PFOA entering the food.

The Danish limit is so low that existing PFCs could not be used for their traditional role.

The country’s minister for the environment and food Eva Kjer Hansen says: ‘Consumer safety is paramount and [there] should not be harmful fluorinated substances in the paper and paperboard in contact with our food.

‘I prefer that companies do not use fluorinated substances in the packaging and therefore I make now a guide with a limit so low that [they] cannot effectively be used fluorinated substances.’

The new limit has been designed to operate within the existing regulatory framework for food contact materials laid down in Regulation 1935/2004.

Commenting on the new limit Hansen says she will also lobby through the organs of the European Union to get the new limits officially adopted as policy across the trade bloc.

This article comes from Food Contact World, which provides exclusive news and analysis on developments in digital print trends, markets, and technologies.