The study targeted four polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – benzo[a]anthracene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[a]pyrene,
and chrysene. All are regulated in the EU, following a 2008 opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) over the carcinogenic effects of this class of chemicals.
In the new investigation, the researchers used high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to measure the content of the four PAHs in a sample of smoked sausages. The total concentration of all four was found to be 30.1μg/kg.
The sausages were then packed into an o-polyamide/LDPE laminated film and subsequent readings taken at intervals across three hours. Over this time the tests found the total concentration of PAHs dropped to 5.7μg/kg. The researchers note the effect was sufficient to drop the level of PAHs in the sausages beneath the Efsa-set threshold of 12μg/kg.
A control sample of the food not placed in the film did not see the same reduction.
Publishing in the journal Food Chemistry on 13 January, the Slovakian team notes: ‘[The] decrease was brought about by migration of PAH4 from sausages into low-density polyethylene packaging bulk and the measure of decrease can be predicted by a kinetic equation, making it possible to calculate PAH content equal to any time of experiment, as well as the time of interaction necessary to fulfil EU legislative limits.’
The HPLC also measured the decline in benzo[a]pyrene individually. This fell from 3.9μg/kg to 1.1μg/kg – again under the safe limit prescribed by the European authority.
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