ECMA Statement on the Foodwatch Research Publication

The European Carton Makers Association (ECMA) has learned via the press how the consumer interest platform Foodwatch released test results regarding the presence in and the migration of mineral oils from cartons into food.


Committed to food safety, the carton sector would like to make the following comments:

  • In previous cases scientific research has indicated that mineral oil contamination can be caused by many external sources instead of the product packaging.

  • Varying levels of mineral oils were found in certain food samples. The test results however do not give a decisive answer about the source of this material, but do indicate that there are most probably other sources besides product packaging. Throughout the supply chain many sources other than product packaging, such as residual levels in food ingredients, mineral oils contributed from handling and processing equipment or cross contamination, may influence mineral oil levels in food.

  • Public recommendations are since September 2010 available from the ECMA website on options such as the use of low migration inks and the safe use of recycled board in combination with a functional barrier. In a number of specific conditions and applications a barrier is not required for recycled substrates. The appropriate selection of materials is covered in the ECMA GMP on Food Safety.

  • Taking responsibility for the migration which may occur from the product packaging level, many solutions have been coming available, from the introduction of functional barriers on the reverse side of recycled cartons or as a separate inner bag, the introduction of active carbon acting as an absorbent for the different contaminants or the use of virgin cartonboard. In all cases it is strictly recommended to use low migration inks and appropriate adhesives for food cartons.

  • It is important to outline that the usage of both virgin and recycled paper and board in combination with a barrier are essential to the circular economy and should not be disqualified as undesirable.

  • ECMA is dedicated to secure the highest level of food safe packaging solutions, and is open for debate and suggestions for further improvements.

November 2015


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In view of the starting discussions on the printed food contact materials measure and also on the broader approach regarding the non-harmonised FCM, the European Carton Makers Association (ECMA) - in which the national Folding Carton Associations are closely involved - would like to put forward a number of comments and suggestions recently made in its Technical Committee.

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