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Food Contamination with Styrene Dibromide via Packaging Migration of Leachate from Polystyrene Cold-Storage Insulation

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During distribution through an offshore transportation and cold-storage network, a multitonne consignment of cheese became contaminated, as apparent by a surface taint on some of the cheese blocks. Analysis of the volatile aroma compounds revealed that the taint was caused by styrene dibromide, estimated to be present in the tainted cheese at less than nanogram per gram concentrations. Condensed water, which had accumulated within the polystyrene insulation over a period of years, had been released by physical damage to the walls of an old cold store, and organic contaminants from the leached water had migrated through the packaging material of the cheese bags. Because styrene dibromide is toxic and mutagenic, its presence was intolerable in food intended for human consumption, and the consignment of cheese was ordered to be destroyed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Fonterra Research Centre, Dairy Farm Road, Private Bag 11029, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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