Direct Food Contact Inks and Coatings
Sun Chemical Offers Ink and Coating Solutions for Direct Food Contact Packaging
In rare instances, the print on the packaging is intended to be in very close or direct contact with the packaged goods. This is referred to as direct food contact (DFC) and is regulated within the scope of the EC 1935/2004 Framework Regulation on food contact materials and the US Food and Drug Administration Code of Regulations on food additives. Due to the high risk of ink component migration in these circumstances, it is necessary to make a rigorous risk assessment.
Because of the wide range of scenarios, such as the specific nature of the packaged goods and contact time (which may be from a few minutes to many months), the feasibility and selection of suitable ink products needs to be made on a case-by-case basis.
Inks for direct food contact (including pharmaceutical, cosmetic and other sensitive packaging) will almost always require a more rigorous process for formulation design and the selection of raw materials to minimize non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) as impurities. In addition, a more controlled process for manufacturing, including contamination control (from previous batches and from cleaning materials) and hygiene control, needs to be implemented.
In specific low risk scenarios, the use of standard migration compliant products may be appropriate depending on specific migration testing and risk assessment. In most cases though, printing should be conducted using specifically formulated inks and coatings, possibly using approved food additives.
In all cases, it will be necessary to seek expert advice and recommendations from ink suppliers and conduct a risk assessment. Not doing so means a higher probability that the printed packaging will not be in compliance with the regulatory requirements.