Significance of Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Food Packaging

By Greg W Curtzwiler, Paulo Silva, Alexander Hall, Alexandra Ivey, and Keith Vorst
Integr Environ Assess Manag
September 30, 2020
DOI: 10.1002/ieam.4346

Food safety authorities and the food industry are focused on uses of PFAS in various food contact packaging applications. Not widely known until recently, certain PFAS occur in paper-based packaging materials typically at parts-per-billion to parts-per-million concentrations. These substances are non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) and attributed to residues from recycled fiber and paperboard used in the manufacture of new food packaging products. This has generated debate in the food industry and among scientific and governmental organizations about understanding the significance of PFAS in food contact products because certain PFAS are intentionally added to some food packaging materials. Distinguishing between both sources of PFAS in food-packaging is essential for regulatory compliance purposes. In this paper, we describe on-going research using contact angle measurement analysis to determine Limits of Performance (LOP) for perfluorocarboxylic acids (C4, C6, C8, and C10) on the surface of recycled paper packaging materials. We find that the LOP concentrations for PFCAs ranged from 37 ppm (C10) to higher than 1238 ppm (C4). As there is no economic justification for the presence of PFAS that do not provide functional performance, these LOP concentrations can reliably be considered as NIAS thresholds. This analytical method and the resulting test data are able to differentiate the source of PFAS in food packaging. Future research will broaden the test method to include measurements of fluorotelomer, sulfonamide, and fluoropolymer substances to develop a more comprehensive understanding of PFAS performance and NIAS concentration thresholds. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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