Germany withdraws noodles after benzophenone leaches from packaging

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Member states European union

Germany withdraws noodles after benzophenone leaches from packaging
Hundreds of boxes of noodles have been withdrawn from sale in Germany after levels of benzophenone almost three times above the European legal limit were found to have migrated from the packaging.

The frozen vermicelli noodles, imported from Belgium, were contaminated with benzophenone levels reaching 1747 µg/kg, said the European Commission.

The chemical is used in printing inks for food packaging. In 2009 the EC said that food contact materials with inks containing the substance and 4-Methylbenzophenone must not exceed levels of 600 µg/kg, and German authorities had adopted this level, said the country’s Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL).

Some 150 kg of the tainted noodles have been withdrawn from sale in Germany, the BVL, told FoodProductionDaily.com. The national authorities had informed the agency the tainted food posed “no serious risk for consumers”.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said the products had only received a limited circulation and that they were no longer on sale.

“The German wholesaler distributed the questioned product only to a few retailers within Germany,”​ she said. “These clients were informed and the products were withdrawn from the market.”

This is not the first time that Germany has pulled benzophenone-tainted products from the market. In July 2010, more than 15,000 cartons of contaminated couscous imported from Italy were found to contain levels of the chemical reaching 1559 µg/kg.

Voluntary phase out

The migration of benzophenone and-4-Methylbenzophenone (4-MBP) hit the headlines in February 2009 when the German authorities again notified the Commission of the migration of the chemicals from packaging into cereal products at a concentration of 798 µg/kg. The Belgian Authorities also provided data later the same month, reporting concentrations of the chemical in cereals up to 3729 μg/kg.

As a result, the Commission requested a rapid risk assessment from EFSA on 4MBP in foodstuffs and pending an EFSA statement, some member states withdrew cereal products from the market.

In June, 2009 the Commission gave the substance the ‘all clear’​ at the levels typically found and dismissed the need to carry out a further review, as had previously been suggested.

After canvassing member states, it announced that national authorities had agreed to encourage firms to limit or phase out the use of the chemically, particularly 4-MBP.

An EC official told FoodProductionDaily.com at the time: “4MBP has been given the all clear. There is no risk anymore. Member states have agreed to encourage companies to minimize use of the ink that contains the chemical or utilize packaging where the ink is unable to leach through.”

Related topics Food safety & quality

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