Mineral oils in foodstuffs have been a concern for many years in Europe, due to their health damaging effects.
In Metsä Board’s study chocolate cereals were stored in cartons made from both recycled-fibre-based cartonboard and Metsä Board’s fresh-fibre-based folding boxboard. The cartons were stored in corrugated boxes made from recycled fibres for four months. After four months mineral oil content in cereals was analysed by two external accredited laboratories.
“The results did not show direct nor indirect migration in cereals packed in cartons made from Metsä Board’s folding boxboard. However, the mineral oil amount in cereals packed in recycled-fibre-based cartonboard increased clearly and exceeded the levels of the draft German ordinance,” says director Terhi Saari from Metsä Board’s Äänekoski Technology Centre.
Metsä Board also measured mineral oil contents in the cartons and in the corrugated boxes. According to measurements the mineral oil amounts in recycled packaging decreased significantly during storage, indicating evaporation of the mineral oil hydrocarbons and risk of migration.
Fresh fibre paperboards are clean and safe
Mineral oil can find its way to food via packaging. It can originate from plastics, adhesives, printing inks, food additives as well as from transportation and fuels. Currently there is no clear regulatory guidance for paperboard producers, but on top of the EU regulation being updated also Germany is preparing its ordinance on the matter.
Italy and Switzerland have already forbidden the use of recycled fibres in contact with food without a barrier.
Metsä Board’s fresh fibre paperboards are clean and safe to use for food packaging. They comply with food safety regulations. “Mineral oils do not originate from wood, our core raw material, and all of the raw materials we use are approved for food contact. Our raw materials are 100% traceable. The fresh fibres we use can be traced to sustainably managed northern European forests,” Saari says.