Printing inks are widely used by packaging manufacturers and distributors to provide information on the characteristics of packaged products and make packaging attractive for consumers.
Printing inks applied to materials in contact with food have no specific legislation, but their use is envisaged by EC Regulation 2023/2006 (GMP), which provides that the printing surface is not in direct contact with food. In addition, the printing should be placed so that the possible transfer of its constituents is not harmful to the health of the consumer and does not unacceptably alter the organoleptic characteristics of the food.
Mérieux NutriSciences laboratories designed and developed many analytical protocols to evaluate the transfer of substances from printed surfaces to those destined to be in contact with the food:
- target approach: specific migration of known substances used as a marker and being the printing ink (e.g. photo-initiators, solvents, monomers, additives, etc.; quantitative determination through certified standards);
- non-targeted approach: evaluation of ink transfer from the printed surface to the side intended for contact with food through appropriate extraction of components from printed surfaces and subsequent Gas Chromatography;
- evaluation of detected substances: it is done with official documents (e.g. EuPIA Guidelines, Swiss Ordinance, REACH, etc.) and extensive bibliographical research by highly qualified experts able to support customers in materials compliance and the management of any possible critical issue.
The long experience in this field and the high availability of constantly updated, cutting-edge tools allow customers to evaluate this complex aspect relating to the safety of food contact materials, especially when little information on the composition of the inks used is available.