The Danish food authorities have introduced a guidance value on fluorinated substances in food packaging to reduce the use of these substances, which can be harmful to both humans and the environment. The value has been prepared by researchers from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, in close cooperation with Danish and international authorities, researchers and industry.
Fluorinated substances are synthetically produced chemicals which repel water and oil. For this reason they are used as coatings for food paper and board as well as in numerous other products.
Fluorinated substances are problematic because they are resistant to break down and bioaccumulate in both humans and the environment. Some fluorinated substances are known to correlate with harmful health effects, such as cancer, increased cholesterol and a weakened immune system. They can also decrease men’s and women’s ability to reproduce, and the chemicals can be transferred from mother to child during pregnancy and via breastmilk.
Guidance value set
In August 2015 the Danish Minister for Environment and Food introduced a guidance value on the use of fluorinated substances in food packaging. The guidance value is at a level, which in practice means that the value will be exceeded if fluorinated substances are used in the packaging. However, it allows low levels of unintentionally added fluorinated substances, fx from recycled paper.
In addition, the Minister will call for a tightening of the regulation of fluorinated substances in paper and board at the EU-level.
The guidance value introduced by the authorities has been established by researchers from the National Food Institute, who for the past ten years have done research and provided advice on fluorinated substances. The researchers have developed the value based on a combination of current scientific data, while also taking into account the practical, environmental and economic considerations for businesses, authorities and consumers.
At a Nordic workshop held in Copenhagen in January 2015, which was organised by the Technical University of Denmark and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, and financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic and international authorities, researchers and businesses were invited to provide input on how to set a value.
The research has primarily been financed through funds from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.
Businesses can find more information about food packaging legislation and requirements on the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration’s website.