The German-based chemicals giant said the four barrier solutions can be used with “every type of food packaging, including paper, cardboard and film”.
Three of the coatings - Ultramid, Epotal A 816, Ecovio FS – are existing products, while its specially developed dispersions solution is new, the company told FoodProductionDaily.com.
The efficacy of the coatings has been confirmed through a series of tests carried out by the official Food Safety Authority of the Canton of Zurich.
It was the same Swiss food authority that first raised concerns over the migration of high levels of mineral oils from recycled cardboard packaging into food in two studies in 2010. The first paper highlighted the inclusion of newsprint in recycled paper and board as the main source of the contamination. The second study found excessive levels in all 119 samples of dry food packed in paperboard boxes picked at random from retail shelves - demonstrating the potentially widespread nature of the problem.
Scientists at the Zurich Food Safety Authority employed the same dedicated method to verify the barrier properties of the coatings as they had originally used to detect the mineral oil residues last year, said BASF.
“During the tests, cardboard, paper and films were coated with materials from BASF and the results show that the migration of mineral oil residues was considerably decelerated. The time measured were far beyond the sell-by dates of the food products normally packaged in such materials,” said Heiko Diehl, of the company’s Packaging Network Team.
BASF declined to disclose exact results for each coating but a spokeswoman said: “We are talking about years by which the sell-by dates have been beaten.”
She added that full details for single applications and packaging solutions would be discussed with customers because factors such as bulk material, storage time and storage temperatures must be considered in designing particular barrier solutions for specific applications.
The company said that Ultramid is suitable for use as a barrier coating both for cardboard packaging and as an inner packaging component in bag-in-box systems. To date it has been used for applications including oxygen-barrier, robust multilayer packaging systems to keep meat and cheese fresh.
Ecovio FS Paper is a biodegradable plastic suitable for manufacturing coatings both for cardboard and biodegradable film packaging systems. The water-based dispersion Epotal A 816 is also suitable for film coating and therefore for use as a barrier layer in bag-in-box systems, said BASF
The water-based acrylate dispersions are available for paper and cardboard coatings. A variety of paper and cardboard grades coated with these products on a lab and pilot plant scale have exhibited “very good barrier properties against mineral oils”, said the firm. The new dispersions are also effective barriers against native fats and oils and flavourings. Preparations for industrial-scale product testing are ongoing.
The products have all been designed to be implemented easily within existing technologies, said BASF.
The company hailed the significance of the development explaining the mineral oil migration problem affects all cardboard packaging systems in the world that are manufactured from recycled paper. Some 9.2m tonnes of raw cardboard currently are used for food packaging in Europe annually – with virgin pulp accounting for just 2m tones of this.