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Coloured Paper Napkins -
Danger by Primary Aromatic Amines
Primary aromatic amines (PAA) may be present as impurities in azo dyes, especially in yellow, orange and red pigments. These dyes are used in printing inks for consumer goods, e.g. paper bags or napkins. A survey of CVUA (Chemical and Veterinary State Laboratory) in 2014 shows that relevant amounts of PAA migrate from printed paper napkins and paper bags from bakeries into food.

The group of primary aromatic amines consist of compounds with an amine and an aromatic hydrocarbon. The simplest structure is amino benzene, also called aniline. Since some of the PAA compounds, e.g. 2-naphtylamine, toluidine and anisidine are classified as carcinogenic, they should not be present in food. PAA display their mutagenic and carcinogenic effect in the human organism. After ingestion of these substances, they are metabolised and become highly reactive to form stable adducts with the human DNA.

Primary aromatic amines may also be present in packaging materials or plastic kitchen utensils. Through a reaction of isocyanates, e.g. from polyurethane plastics, aromatic amines may be synthesised in the presence of water. In addition, packaging made of recycled paper and cardboard may contain arylamine based printing inks. Migration into food is not ruled out.

Already in 2008, 22 PAA were classified as CMR substances (carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic for reproduction) in regulation (EC) 1272/2008. According to REACH, they must not be applied for a consumer good with body contact (maximum residue limit 30 mg/kg).

In regulation (EC) 10/2011, a maximum limit of 0.01 mg/kg (sum of parameters) for migration of PAA from plastic food contact materials into food was set.

With the amendment of the consumer goods regulation in regard to printing inks, the 22 primary aromatic amines should not be detectable above 0.002 mg/kg.

For the analysis of paper napkins, we use photometric determination after cold water extraction according to § 64 LFGB with a limit of quantification of 2 µg/L. In addition, we test your plastic goods for migration.

BfR Opinion
CVUA Untersuchungen 2014