The health of the consumer is unlikely to be affected by the transfer of oils and waxes from food packaging into food, finds a recent survey from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The amounts of mineral hydrocarbons from oils and waxes that would be consumed via our food have been found to be within safety limits, continued the FSA report.
The conclusions were made following a survey by the FSA into the types and amounts of mineral hydrocarbons in food contact materials and into the amounts that might migrate from packaging into food.
The survey tested a wide variety of retail samples of packaging and food in order to investigate whether mineral hydrocarbons might transfer into food from several sources, for example wax on bread and confectionery wrappers, or lubricating oil used in making cans.
Mineral hydrocarbons were found in 42 out of 64 samples of materials or articles in contact with food and levels varied depending on the type of packaging.
Eighteen out of 30 samples of polystyrene contained 9 to 47 g/kg of oil. Twelve out of 22 samples of waxed paper or board contained 0.4 to 452 g/kg of wax. All twelve samples of corks contained wax at 0.2 to 13 g/kg. Two of these samples of corks also contained oil at 2.1 and 5.7 g/kg.
When mineral hydrocarbons migrated into food, they were found at up to 31 milligrams (mg)/kilogram (kg) in nine retail samples of food (five of bread and four of confectionery) that had been wrapped in waxed paper. Four cakes baked in a retail sample of waxed paper cases contained a mean level of 29 mg/kg of mineral hydrocarbons, the level being higher in the cake surface than in its centre. There was also evidence of oil left over after the manufacture of skinless sausages (five out of eight samples contained 2 to 28 mg oil/kg) and cans (one out of 26 samples of canned food and beverages contained 8 mg/kg of oil).
But the FSA report concludes that consumer intakes of wax and oils migrating into food were within ranges of the Acceptable Daily Intakes set by the European Union's Scientific Committee for Food, and the Joint Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Food Additives.