HomePackaging and MOCAOutlaw migration of plasticizers in oil-based foods. Swiss research

Outlaw migration of plasticizers in oil-based foods. Swiss research

Researchers from the Official Food Control Laboratory of the Canton of Zurich (Kantonales Labor Zürich, Switzerland) analyzed the migration of plasticizers from the gaskets of the lids of glass jars to the food contained in them.

The study (Biedermann et al., 2022) reveals the existence of a widespread food safety problem linked to the lack of official rules and controls on MOCAs (Materials and Objects intended to come into contact with Food) in Europe.

Migration of plasticizers in food in oil, the Swiss study

Sampling was carried out by the 20 local food safety authorities in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

109 foods in oil packaged in glass jars - 81 of which with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) seals - were taken from the market.

The samples were shaken once every month and stored for 6 months, prior to laboratory analysis.

The result

The migration of plasticizers from the seals of the lids of glass jars is high and often exceeds regulatory limits, when the packaged food contains a lot of oil, the researchers explain.

Particularly, plastics other than PVC appear to increase the release of contaminants.

27 of 109 foods analyzed were found not to comply with regulation (EU) 10/2011 for exceeding the contamination limits from

- epoxidized soybean oil (ESBO),

- polyadipates (PA)

- acetyl tributyl citrate,

- the sum of approved plasticizers. (2)

'Three more samples revealed the presence of plasticizers not authorized for contact with food.'

Materials in contact with food, food safety at risk

The authors of the study, in the conclusions, note the following:

  •  'there are still too many products on the Swiss market in which the migration of plasticizers into oily foods exceeds the legal limits’,
  • 'food manufacturers need to pay more attention to ensure packaging material is suitable for packaged foods'.

The authorities recommend carrying out inspections on the suitability of manufactured lids to improve compliance of the migration of plasticizers from glass jars to food.

MOCA and food safety, controls in the EU

Already in the 2018, on the occasion of the first stakeholders' meeting for the evaluation of the European regulation on MOCA (3,4,5), Gregor McCombie - one of the co-authors of the scientific publication in question - had presented the scenario in the EU and in Switzerland. Dwelling on the three key points:

1) inspection, i.e. checks on production processes,

2) product control, where chemical analyzes of retail products are carried out,

3) documentation checks, where the completeness of supporting documents and declarations of conformity are assessed.

McCombie stated that the application of reg. CE 1924/06 in Europe is scarce for two essential reasons:

  • about 100.000 substances are present, overall, in all MOCAs. Of these, only 10.000 are intentionally added, 1.000 are specifically regulated, less than 100 are actually controlled,
  • in many EU countries no chemical analysis is performed Food Contact Materials. (6)

Marta Strinati and Dario Dongo


(1) Maurus Biedermann, Tanja Altherr, Sandra Biedermann-Brem, Angela Eicher, Celine Muñoz, Gregor McCombie. Migration of plasticisers from the gaskets of lids into oily food in glass jars: An update of the situation on the Swiss market a decade after large European campaigns. Food Packaging and Shelf Life, Volume 33, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fpsl.2022.100922

(2) EU Reg. 10/2011, concerning plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:012:0001:0089:IT:PDF

(3) Dario Dongo. Materials in contact, safety issue. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 27.9.18

(4) Marta Strinati, Dario Dongo. Chemical toxicity of materials in contact with food, appeal of the researchers. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 12.3.20

(5) Marta Strinati, Dario Dongo. EU consultation on MOCAs. The position of ISS.  GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 20.1.21

(6) Jane Muncke. EU starts evaluation of FCM regulation: 1st stakeholder event.  Food Packaging Forum. 27.9.18

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".

+ posts

Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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