Europe's Paper-based Packaging Industry Looks to Reduce the Use of Mineral Oils

Dec. 8, 2011 - Recent studies on mineral oils found in foodstuffs have raised concerns about consumer safety, said the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI).

According to these studies, traces of mineral oils migrate to food from inks found on the printed surface of packaging and in recycled packaging papers.

Although no toxicological studies on the effects of human exposure to mineral oil traces currently exist, the paper-based packaging industry takes this matter very seriously and is proactively working to address any concerns.

Despite the absence of clear scientific and regulatory guidance the industry has already made significant progress towards reducing the levels of mineral oils contained in its processes and products. In some cases a reduction of up to 90% in mineral oil levels has been observed over the last 24 months.

To formalise and further strengthen its efforts to reduce the use of mineral oils, the industry has agreed on a European-wide self-commitment. This will phase out the use of printing inks based on mineral oils for printing paper and board packaging, and mineral oil-based process chemicals for food contact paper and board packaging material.

The European paper-based packaging industry is a pioneer in developing and setting standards1 for food contact paper-based packaging. These standards have allowed the industry to minimise any incidents and enable it to respond to the latest scientific developments in a timely and effective way.

No single actor has an immediate and definitive solution to addressing concerns about mineral oil migration into food. The paper-based packaging industry is therefore committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to better understand, and identify the most practical and effective ways to address these concerns.

1Industry Guideline for the Compliance of Paper and Board Materials and Articles for Food Contact by CEPI and CITPA, 2010, and Good Manufacturing Practice for the Manufacture of Paper and Board for Food Contact by CEPI, 2010.

SOURCE: CEPI