Plastic food contact material overall migration test

Safety is important when discussing food contact materials and their effect on food. Migration of chemicals from contact material to food is possible. Overall migration testing follows the EN 1186 standard.

Food contact plastics regulation (EU 10/2011) determines different types of simulants for different food products. The simulant has to mimic the properties of the food product, meaning a simulant for fatty foods has a high fat content, and a simulant for acidic foods has acidic properties.

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Migration stands for transfer of chemicals from one material to another. In this case, chemicals may transfer from the food contact material to food. Migration testing of plastic food contact materials is an important part of product development and quality control. EU No. 10/2011 “plastic” regulation defines the conditions and food simulants for different food products. The combination of food simulants A, B and D2 covers the testing for all types of foods. Simulants A (10 % ethanol) and B (3 % acetic acid) are assigned for foods with hydrophilic properties. Simulant D2 is vegetable oil with less than 1 % non-saponified materials. D2 is for foods with lipophilic properties, in other words fatty foods. 

Food contact material migration testing is often done by mimicking the worst case scenario. This means choosing the most unfavorable temperature and time for testing conditions. Our experts are happy to help you choose the right conditions for testing your food contact material product. If the product is meant to be used in multiple different temperatures, i.e. storage in room temperature before opening and refrigerator after opening, the testing will be done in all conditions using the same simulants, again mimicking the most unfavorable conditions every time.

The following list will explain the different simulants and the food types they cover:

  • Food simulant A: 10 % ethanol (v/v)

  • Food simulant B: 3 % acetic acid (w/v)

  • Food simulant C: 20 % ethanol (v/v)

  • Food simulant D1: 50 % ethanol (v/v)

  • Food simulant D2: Any vegetable oil containing less than 1 % unsaponifiable matter

  • Food simulant E: poly(2,6-diphenyl-p-phenylene oxide), also known as Tenax®

Foods covered // Food simulants in which testing shall be performed:

All types of food: - Food simulants A, B and D2

All types of food except for acidic foods: - Food simulants A and D2

All aqueous and alcoholic foods and milk products with a pH ≥ 4,5: - Food simulant D1

All aqueous and alcoholic foods and milk products with a pH < 4,5: - Food simulants D1 and B

All aqueous and alcoholic foods up to an alcohol content of 20 %: - Food simulant C

All aqueous and acidic foods and alcoholic foods up to an alcohol content of 20 %: - Food simulants C and B

For dry foods, such as flours, spices and powders, food simulant E is often used. 

In some cases, distilled water or water with equivalent quality can be used instead of food simulant A.

Suitable sample matrices

  • Boxes
  • Cutlery
  • Bottles
  • Cups
  • Bowls
  • Any other plastic food contact products

Ideal uses for migration testing

  • Food contact material safety

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Frequently asked questions

What is total migration testing commonly used for?

Total migration testing is used for plastic food contact materials. Materials that are intended to be in contact with food must be tested to ensure safety.

What are the limitations of total migration testing?

Overall migration testing does not give any information about the migrating substances and chemicals. Overall migration testing can be quite complicated with different food simulants and testing conditions. In addition to overall migration testing, specific migration testing (for specific migrative chemicals) can be done.

What kind of samples can be analyzed with total migration testing?

This testing method is for food contact materials made of plastic. 

What is Measurlabs?

Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.

How does the service work?

When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.

How do I send my samples?

Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.

Total migration testing of food contact materials for product development and quality control. We offer high quality migration testing for all kinds of food contact materials, both overall and specific migration and in all possible conditions.