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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Microbial and Chemical Food Safety » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #381145

Research Project: Development, Evaluation, and Validation of Technologies for the Detection and Characterization of Chemical Contaminants in Foods

Location: Microbial and Chemical Food Safety

Title: Screening of chemicals migrating from plastic food contact materials for oven and microwave applications by LC- and GC-Orbitrap MS

item Sapozhnikova, Yelena
item Nunez, Alberto
item JOHNSTON, JOHN - Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)

Submitted to: Journal of Chromatography A
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/12/2021
Publication Date: 5/19/2021
Citation: Sapozhnikova, Y.V., Nunez, A., Johnston, J. 2021. Screening of chemicals migrating from plastic food contact materials for oven and microwave applications by LC- and GC-Orbitrap MS. Journal of Chromatography A. 462261.

Interpretive Summary: In this study, we investigated migration of chemicals from plastic food contact materials: microwave dinner trays, microwave and oven bags. Migrated chemicals were identified with the state-of-the-art high resolution accurate mass instrumentation - gas and liquid chromatographs coupled with Orbitrap mass spectrometers (MS). Nearly all identified migrants were associated with chemicals used in production of polymers and plastics. However, some were products and derivatives of commonly used food contact substances. These findings are important to inform regulatory agencies and decision-makers of migrating chemicals to improve safety of food and protect human health.

Technical Abstract: Contamination of food with chemicals migrating from food contact materials (FCMs) is an important area of food safety. This study aimed to investigate migration of chemicals from plastic FCMs used for microwave and oven heating. Migration tests were conducted for samples of microwave dinner trays, microwave and oven bags. GC- and LC-Orbitrap mass spectrometry (MS) was used for non-targeted screening and identification of chemicals with mass error <5 ppm. A non-targeted identification approach was validated with isotopically labeled chemicals to establish acceptable criteria for identification of migrated compounds. A total of 74 migrated compounds were tentatively identified: 24 chemicals by GC-Orbitrap MS with advanced electron ionization (AEI), plus 35 and 19 by LC-Orbitrap MS electrospray ionization (ESI) with positive and negative polarities, respectively. Four migrated chemicals were identified by more than one instrumental analysis. Among the migrated chemicals, intentionally added substances (IAS), i.e. additives used in the production of polymeric materials and plastics, were identified. In addition, non-intentionally added substances (NIAS), derivatives and degradation/oxidation products of IAS, were also identified. The levels of 25 migrated chemicals were significantly different (p<0.05) between microwave and oven treatments, where 20 migrants had higher levels for microwave and 5 for oven treatments. Furthermore, the levels of 18 migrated chemicals were statistically different between the tested FCMs. For several identified chemicals, no previous reports on their migration from FCMs were found.