Overall migration test for plastic food contact materials

Overall migration testing (OML) is a critical part of ensuring the safety of materials in contact with food. The analysis evaluates the migration of chemicals from the material to the food with the help of simulants that mimic different types of food products. The simulants and testing conditions are determined by the food contact plastic regulation (EU 10/2011) and the tests are performed according to the EN 1186 standard.

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What is overall migration testing?

Migration stands for the transfer of chemicals from one material to another. In this case, chemicals may transfer from the food contact material to the food. Migration testing is a crucial step in product development and quality control of plastic food contact materials.

EU No. 10/2011 “plastic regulation" defines the appropriate testing 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, and simulant D2 (vegetable oil) is meant for foods with lipophilic properties, in other words, fatty foods.

Migration testing in food packaging is often performed by mimicking the worst-case scenario. This means that the tests are done in the most unfavorable conditions in terms of temperature and testing time. If the product is meant to be used in multiple different temperatures, for example, storage at room temperature before opening and in a refrigerator after opening, the testing will be performed in all conditions using the same simulants, again mimicking the most unfavorable conditions every time.

What is the difference between overall migration and specific migration?

Overall migration is the total amount of components migrating from the material to the food, while specific migration refers to the amount migrated of one specific component. Specific migration limits are determined based on the toxicological hazard that each substance causes, and the limits thus vary across different substances.


Simulants used in migration tests

  • 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®

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

Selection of simulants by food type

The food simulants used in migration testing are selected based on the food type that the material is meant to come into contact with.

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 flour, spices, and powders

  • Food simulant E

Not sure which simulants or testing conditions to choose?

Our experts are happy to help you choose the appropriate testing conditions and simulants for the overall and specific migration tests you need. Contact us at info@measurlabs.com or through the form below to discuss your requirements, and we will get back to you within one business day. Alternatively, you can check out the comprehensive testing packages we offer:

We also provide a range of other testing options for food contact materials, including OTR and WVTR testing to determine the barrier properties of films and packages. Feel free to ask our experts for more information on any of these services.

Suitable sample matrices

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

The goal of migration testing

  • Food contact material safety

Ask for a quote

Contact us below to get a quote for testing services in one business day.

We always reply within one business day.

You can also email us at info@measurlabs.com or call +358 50 336 6128.

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 performed.

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.