Risk assessment of food packaging materials and ways to prevent these risks

  • Authors: L.V. Hortseva, T.V. Shutova, O.S. Martynova, V.V. Zaval'na, T.P. Kostiuchenko
  • UDC: 615.9:621.798:613.2:663.954.56:614:614.75
  • DOI: 10.33273/2663-4570-2018-84-4-59-62
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State Enterprise “L. I. Medved’s Research Center of Preventive Toxicology, Food and Chemical Safety of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine”, Kyiv, Ukraine

ABSTRACT. The article presents the types of modern food products packaging, their advantages and possible risks in the process of use. It also specifies terms of safe use and necessity of packaging materials' control.
There are described researches of some packaging products by indicators of safety for human health.

The great importance is given to the issue of manufacturing of packaging products, which will not be a source of environment pollution. The advantages of innovative packaging of lamins based on aluminum foil and polypropylene film are given in comparison with canned container made of tin or glass. In this article the main areas of usage of this material for packaging various types of food products are represented. Different types of packaging have been studied to assess their risk and adverse effects on the human body.

During the research, the peculiarities of the migration of toxic substances and elements from the packaging material into simulated food simulations were studied. The raw materials (glass, wood, paper, cardboard) were investigated according to radiological indices used for the production of packaging materials to confirm its quality.

Key Words: modern packaging, health risks, safety control.

In the modern world, it is difficult to imagine the food industry without using a variety of packaging. Currently, food packaging is provided by a large group of materials manufactured using new technologies at the modern level. These are cardboards, paper, polymer materials (polyolefins, polystyrene, polyamide, polycarbonate, polyethylene terephthalate), biopolymers, glass, wood, aluminium foil, tin, etc. Recently polymers are in the first place among other materials, their use is increasing with the rate of 8 % per year. This is associated with their wide range of properties: they are used for the production, packaging, boxing, ware, cooking utensils, storage, transportation, distribution and use of food products in the composition of technological equipment, apparatuses, and devices. All of these allow saving traditional natural materials, such as paper, wood, metal, glass. At the same time, new possibilities occur to increase storage periods and reduce the loss of food products, as well as to provide higher consumer properties of packaged products and create new samples of kitchen and table appliances.

A great value is given to the production of packaging products that is not a source of environmental pollution. For example, due to the difficulties associated with the disposal of polymer materials, there is a need in the use of biopolymers for the production of packaging materials that is degraded safely for the environment and during the lesser period. This is achieved by the introduction of special additives of a new generation directly during the production of packaging.

For example, biosoluble polyethylene that does not differ from traditional polyethylene by its properties: water resistance, transparency, etc. The main difference is that biosoluble polyethylene is degraded into water, carbon dioxide and biomass in 3 years. This is due to the inclusion of oxo-bioadditive d2w to the material, that is absolutely safe which is confirmed by the international certificates of quality. Polyethylene with oxo-bioadditive d2w may be used for food product packaging according to the Directive 2002/72 EC with amendments. Another important advantage of biosoluble polyethylene is its insignificantly higher price in comparison with the traditional one. D2w technology is based on the use of the additive, that in general comprises 1 % in the ratio with polyethylene, directly during manufacture of the film (blowing, extrusion). Upon such a small proportion of additive, the finished product maintains all properties of traditional polyethylene. One of the unique properties of this additive is that it is possible to specify the required term before degradation of polyethylene. Degradation is induced by any combination of high temperature, light, the pressure that acts as a catalyst and specifies the rate and time of degradation. As the degradation process starts, it is impossible to stop it, the process does not depend on the position of the product, whether it is underground, in water or on the surface. Polyethylene with a d2w additive may be exposed to the recycling.

Especially interesting variant for production of biopackaging is starch as the cheapest type of raw materials, the main source of which is potato, wheat, corn, rice, maize, and some other plants. Due to the fact that starch is a typical hydrophilic polymer, it may contain up to 40 % of bound moisture that allows using water as one of the most accessible starch plasticizers. Such plastification is performed under the simultaneous action of temperature and mechanical tension. This results in the significant changes in physical and mechanical properties of starch. Then thermoplastic materials for single or undurable use are formed by compression moulding and extrusion.

A good example of the innovative package that has a range of advantages in comparison with the traditional boxing made of tin or glass is lamister or sterlacom. This a three-layer combined material composed of aluminium lacquered foil and polypropylene film connected with glue. Also, the package has 5-fold lower weight, maintains tightness even in the ace of deformation, it is not oxidizable during storage.

One of the most valuable properties is the unique antibacterial surface that prevents the possible propagation of bacteria. Containers made of food-grade aluminium foil are especially attractive due to the lack of any negative properties and characteristics. Foil packaging is ecological, it is not harmful to the environment, since it may be recycled endlessly.

The main fields of using lamister: preserved fish and meat with different sauces; meat with a side dish; preserved vegetables; caviare; fruit puree; porridges; pilav; pasty; dairy products; juices; jams; honey, etc.

1. Modern packages contain functional admixtures: absorbents of gas, humidity, aromatizing agents, antimicrobials that ensure storage of food products without alteration of their organoleptic properties during a long time. However, modern manufacturing and production technologies of packaging material using innovative approaches do not exclude the possibility of releasing toxic elements of their composition into the environmental objects, food products and beverages, therefore, negatively affecting the human body.

2. The risk of the negative effect of toxicants may be significantly increased under the condition of the use of packages only as intended with adherence to handling and storage conditions. Justification of selection of one or another new technological solution in terms of using packaging for food products should be confirmed by sanitary and hygienic studies aimed at detection of the potential hazard of the material used.

We conducted the studies of disposable ware (containers) made of food-grade aluminium foil manufactured by StudioPack Ukraine Limited. In the study, we investigated peculiarities of migration of the toxic substances and elements from the packaging material to the simulated solutions that simulate food products depending on the duration of contact. Such studies allowed establishing the following: whether test material (article) releases substances of ingredient composition or other ones formed in the process of recycling and handling of the articles. The studies also allowed obtaining qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the components releases, establishing the levels of migration of chemical substances and elements to the simulates media. It should be noted that no risks that confirm the possibility of using disposable ware made of aluminium foil were found.

Different types of packaging require not only standard quality studies, but they should also consider the specific nature of production of each of them, and approach should be individual to prevent safety risks.

In order to assess the risk of some packaging materials (glass, wood, paper, cardboard) and prevent their negative effect on the human body, radiological studies were conducted, and their results are shown in Table 1.

Table 1


Test samples had no increased content of radionuclides caesium-137 and strontium-90. The data obtained suggest the use of high-quality raw materials for the manufacture of packaging materials, stability of radiation situation, as well as effective checkpoints over manufacture, storage and distribution of food products and packaging materials. However, considering constant importation of raw materials for the manufacture of food products and packaging materials from different countries of the world and exclusion of the risks of the negative effect of the hazardous chemical substances and radionuclides, constant qualitative control is required.


1. Therefore, the final conclusion on the possibility of using one or another materials and articles for contact with certain food products can be made only after comprehensive studies: organoleptic, sanitary and chemical, microbiological, radiological, etc. of the package and food product being packed in it.

2. More extensive studies are expected for synthetic materials manufactured using new ingredients and technologies. At the same time, mandatory stage of the expert evaluation is the sanitary and toxicological assessment of the toxicity, specific and delayed consequences using laboratory animals and other biological objects. This stage is conducted for the exclusion of the hazardous effect on the body: intoxication, impaired function of organs and systems, metabolism, sensitization, gonadotoxicity, teratogenicity, embryotoxicity, carcinogenicity, the mutagenicity of potentially hazardous substances that migrate to the food product from new material. Upon establishment of any of the specified effects, a test sample of the synthetic material should not be used for contact with food products.



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Надійшла до редакції 13.12.2018 р.