EFSA ruling on absorbent materials in packaging

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The European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) panel on food contact materials, enzymes, flavourings and processing aids (CEF) has ruled on the safety of plastics additives that act as moisture and liquid absorbers in packaging for foods with a short shelf-life.

The additives form a mixture incorporated into pads, trays, lids and other plastic packaging items for products such as fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and meat products.

The panel ruled that: sodium carboxymethylcellulose and bentonite are safe, without imposing content limits; aluminium potassium sulphate dodecahydrate can be used with sodium carboxymethylcellulose (from 50-90% content) and bentonite (10-30% content) at up to 4% by weight.

"In all cases the absorbers must be placed in components in the food packaging preventing them from being in direct contact with food and the fluid absorption capacity of these absorbers must not be exceeded," said the panel.