VTT files patent for bio-based mineral oil barrier film in cereals

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture credit: Foodwatch.org
Picture credit: Foodwatch.org

Related tags: Mineral oil, Vtt technical research centre of finland, Breakfast cereal

VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland) has filed a patent for a bio-based mineral oil barrier film and is looking for partners to commercialize the technology.

It started the project on it SutCo pilot coating line and patent pending technology (PCT/FI2016/5075) six months ago and claims it can decrease the amount of mineral oil migration in packaging by 90%.

‘Bag-in-box’ liner for dry foods

Jari Vartiainen, senior scientist, Packaging and Coating Technology, VTT, told BakeryandSnacks, the 2-layer film can be used as a ‘bag-in-box’ liner for dry foods such as breakfast cereals.

Currently, fossil-based HDPE film is used as a major raw material for inner bags such as breakfast cereals. However, HDPE is a very poor barrier against migration of mineral oil components​,” he said.

Polyethylene inner bags typically first adsorb hydrocarbons and later release them into the food​.

By using VTT’s SutCo pilot coating line and patent pending technology the mineral oil migration can be decreased down to an acceptable level addressing not only the human health concerns but the environmental safety aspects​.”

We are now looking for industrial partners to commercialize the technology​.”

VTT found during trials, bio-based barrier bags prepared from Tempo-CNF coated bio-HDPE film protected the content to a great extent from mineral oil migration.

Breakfast cereal market to reach $43.2bn by 2019

There was no evidence of any leakages through heat-sealed areas of bags and completely transparent films behaved faultlessly during processing.

Very low migration of each mineral oil component was obtained with Tempo-CNF coatings.

Migration after seven days at 23°C for n-decane, isobutylbenzene was 1-cyclohexylbutane, 1-cyclohexylheptane and 1-cyclohexyldecane was 207, 173, 125, 13 and 1 mg/kg respectively.

Significant reduction (>>90%) was attained as compared to non-coated bio-HDPE and other commercial cereal bag films.

According to Transparency Market Research​, the global breakfast cereal market is expected to reach $43.2bn by 2019. Breakfast cereals are typically packaged in paper and board packaging with or without inner bags and consumed without further processing.

“The debate regarding the safety issue of mineral oil migration into foodstuffs began in 2011. Five years later, after a recently released study by Foodwatch, the subject matter has been thrown into the spotlight again,” added Vartiainen. 

Based on Foodwatch Test 10/2015​ the results of 120 dry food products collected from France, Germany and the Netherlands found 83% of tested products contained mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and 43% contained mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH).

According to Vartiainen, exposure to mineral oil residues from migration into breakfast cereals packaged in recycled paper and board without a barrier to migration may contribute significantly to the total dietary exposure, especially with small children.

Source: ​VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Title:​ Bio-based mineral oil barrier coatings and films

Date:​ 3.2.2016

Researchers:​ Jari Vartiainen, Christiane Laine, Marja Pitkänen, Taina Ohra-aho

File Number:​ FI2016/5075  

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