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Estimation of exposure to food-packaging materials. 2: Patterns of intakes of packaged foods in Irish Children aged 5–12 years

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In the European Union (EU), many assumptions are employed to calculate the intake of migrating chemicals from food packaging. However, very little is known about the actual intake of packaged food, the type of this food and the type of packaging used for this food. The objective of the current study was to examine intakes of packaged food in children aged 5–12 years to provide information on the types of food that are packaged and the type of packaging used. To do this, a food-consumption database, which also recorded information on packaging, was merged with a packaging database, which provided information on the contact layers of packaging. Foods were classified into EU Food categories according to European Council Directive EC 85/575/EEC (European Council 1985), which determined their food type (i.e. aqueous, acidic, alcoholic and fatty). The mean daily intake of all packaged food was 1195gday −1 with an upper intake of 1959gday −1 (97.5th percentile); the intake of food packaged in plastic was 993gday −1 with an upper percentile of 1692gday −1 (97.5th percentile). The mean daily intake of fat from all packaged food was 62gday −1 , with an upper intake of 100gday −1 (97.5th percentile). When this was investigated further, it was found that the mean fat intake from packaged ‘fatty' foods only was 32gday −1 , with an upper intake of 61gday −1 (97.5th percentile). The food that contributed most to fat intake was milk. As many food chemical intake assessments are moving towards probabilistic methods, probabilities of a food being packaged and the probability of the type of packaging used were determined. The probability of food being packaged was 0.88. Some foods not 100% packaged included fruit, vegetables, liquid beverages non-alcoholic (includes water) and bread. Probabilities were also derived for the packaging types used for food. It can be concluded that not all the individual assumptions used in the EU exposure assessment are conservative, but in combination they are conservative.
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Keywords: Exposure assessment; children; modelling; packaging factors; packaging migration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of European Food Studies, Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James's Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland 2: Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College, Cork, Ireland

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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