Throughout their entire lives, consumers are exposed to harmful substances via, amongst others, materials designed for contact with food (e.g. pots and pans, plates, bowls and packaging). This is, however, a very complex issue due to the large number of chemicals that can be used and the wide variety of materials (including plastics, cardboard, silicones, inks, rubber, ceramic objects, etc.). The work on food contact materials carried out by the National Reference Laboratory (NRL), which is housed within Sciensano, guarantees the safety of the food chain.
Sciensano is part of the European network of reference laboratories for food contact materials and provides support to the other Belgian laboratories via workshops and communication groups.
The National Reference Laboratory (NRL) develops and validates analytical methods for the evaluation of food contact materials for a great variety of chemical components (including bisphenol A, mineral oil, photoinitiators, etc.) in complex matrices (such as, for example, dry and wet foods) and in simulants used to imitate contact with real food. This great variation represents a scientific challenge. Sciensano is ISO 17025 accredited for a number of migration analyses.
The presence of the following contaminants is investigated under the control program of the Federal Agency for Food Safety (FAFS):
- Photoinitiators in packaging and simulant Tenax
- Phthalates and ESBO in food preserved in jars
- Bisphenol A in polycarbonate kitchen equipment
- Melamine and formaldehyde in melamine kitchen equipment
- Primary aromatic amines in polyamide kitchen equipment
- Bisphenol A, phthalates and photoinitiators in dry food
- Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE) and derivatives in fatty foods and metal packaging
- Aluminium from food contact materials made of aluminium
- Heavy metals in kitchen equipment made of metal and ceramic objects
Furthermore, we participate in various ring tests organised by, amongst others, FAPAS and the European Reference Laboratory to ensure the quality of the analyses carried out.
The various activities in the project provide us with a more accurate picture of any possible food contamination by food contact materials.