Food Thermal Labels are a Source of Dietary Exposure to Bisphenol S and Other Color Developers

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To test the hypothesis that migration from the thermal labels on plastic film packaging is a major source of exposure to bisphenols and alternative color developers in food, scientists analyzed 140 packaging materials from packaged fresh food purchased in North America. No bisphenol A (BPA) was detected in either the packaging samples or thermal labels. However, significant amounts of bisphenol S (BPS) and alternative color developers (up to 214 μg/cm2) were present in thermal labels; their relative occurrence varied among stores. In a controlled experiment, researchers wrapped fish in film with a thermal label for 5 days at 4 °C. The fish in contact with the label contained BPS (≤1140 ng/g wet weight [ww]), 4-hydroxyphenyl 4-isoprooxyphenylsulfone (D-8) (≤230 ng/g ww), bis(2-chloroethyl)ether-4,4’-dihydroxydiphenyl sulfone monomer (D-90) (≤3.41 ng/g ww), and/or Pergafast-201 (≤1.87 ng/g ww). The corresponding film samples were then tested using migration cells for 10 days; significantly higher BPS migration was observed systematically from the films with thermal labels compared to plain films. This study provides evidence, for the first time, that BPS and alternative thermal label color developers migrate from packaging materials into food. Further, BPS migration significantly exceeded the European Union Specific Migration Limit (50 ng/g ww), suggesting that further risk assessment studies are warranted.

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