According to the Commission Regulation (EC) No 450/2009 of the Commission of European Communities of 29 May 2009 on active and intelligent materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, substances responsible for the active or intelligent function need first to be evaluated by EFSA before their inclusion into a positive Community list. The procedure of the evaluation and the tasks of EFSA are described in the Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.
In the context of this evaluation procedure following three requests from the Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL), Germany, the Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing aids (CEF) was asked to deliver an opinion on polyacrylic acid, sodium salt, crosslinked (FCM substance No 1015) as liquid absorber in absorbent pads used in the packaging of fresh or frozen meat, poultry, and fish as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. The applications were submitted to the BVL by BASF SE (one dossier) and McAirlaid’s Vliesstoffe GmbH & Co KG (two dossiers).
The non-crosslinked polymer is authorized as an additive for plastic materials and articles in contact with food (Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 ) with a group SML of 6 mg/kg food, expressed as acrylic acid (polyacrylic acid, salts, FCM Substance No 70). The crosslinker has not been evaluated by SCF or EFSA in the past. Impurities from its manufacturing properties are substances authorised either as additives for plastic materials and articles in contact with food with no specific restriction or substances authorised as food additives.
Specific migration tests were not performed on the absorbent pads due to the high absorption of liquids by the substance. There is no direct contact possible between the substance and the food if the substance is incorporated into the inner layer of pads and the pads are used as intended. The substance and its impurities are not volatile and they will not migrate via the vapour phase. Provided that there is no direct contact between the food and the substance and that the absorption capacity of the absorbent pads is not exceeded, the Panel concluded that no migration is to be expected and therefore no exposure from the consumption of the packed food is expected.
The CEF Panel, after having considered the above mentioned information, concluded that the use of the substance polyacrylic acid, sodium salt, crosslinked, does not raise a safety concern when used in absorbent pads in the packaging of fresh or frozen meat, poultry, and fish as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. The absorbent pads must be used only under conditions in which the liquid absorption capacity is not exceeded and direct contact between the substance and the food is excluded.