Iron based oxygen absorbers


Food contact materials; active and intelligent materials; oxygen absorbers; iron; safety assessment; evaluation.
First published in the EFSA Journal
12 April 2013
19 March 2013
Scientific Opinion

This scientific opinion of the EFSA Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids deals with the safety evaluation of iron based oxygen absorber systems comprising iron, sodium chloride, water, silica gel, activated carbon, monosodium glutamate, potassium acid tartrate, powdered cellulose, malic acid, chabazite, hydroxypropyl cellulose, potassium carbonate, sodium thiosulfate, propylene glycol, glycerin, polyethyleneglycol sorbitan monooleate, sodium propionate and clinoptilolite, incorporated in sachets, patches and cards. Iron, the main active ingredient reacts with oxygen to form iron hydroxide and iron oxide, thereby removing oxygen from the primary packaging. Only activated carbon has not been evaluated as such, but it meets the specifications for activated charcoal which is authorised as additive for plastic materials and articles in contact with foods. All other ingredients of the oxygen absorber formulations have been evaluated and approved for use as additives in plastic food contact materials and/or as food additives and/or food supplements or feed additives. The active system being based on solid ingredients and not intended for direct contact with liquid food or food with an external liquid surface, migration through the gas phase was screened for 9 representative active systems. No volatiles derived from the active mixtures were detected. Therefore the CEF Panel concluded that the substances do not raise a safety concern when used in oxygen absorbers in sachets, patches or cards, placed in the headspace of the packaging or when used in direct contact with food, excluding liquid food or foods that have an external aqueous liquid phase on the surface such as sliced fruits and fresh meat.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Ulla Beckman Sundh, Mona-Lise Binderup, Claudia Bolognesi, Leon Brimer, Laurence Castle, Alessandro Di Domenico, Karl-Heinz Engel, Roland Franz, Nathalie Gontard, Rainer Gürtler, Trine Husøy, Klaus-Dieter Jany, Martine Kolf-Clauw, Catherine Leclercq, Wim Mennes, Maria Rosaria Milana, Maria de Fátima Poças, Iona Pratt, Kettil Svensson, Fidel Toldrá and Detlef Wölfle.
Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids
cef [at]
EFSA Journal 2013;11(4):3155 [12 pp.].
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On request from
Food Standards Agency, UK
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