Food packaging compounds detected in breast milk

Compounds that are used in ink that are in turn used in many types of food packaging, the so-called photoinitiators, have been identified by a research group in human breastmilk after past research had already detected it in human blood serum. The same researchers, who published their own study in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, however, ensure that these levels do not seem to be of concern to the health of either the mother or the infants.

These substances are mainly used in the photopolymerization process, a technology which is considered more environmentally friendly than others, and which is used to synthesize light-sensitive materials such as ink, coatings and UV-curable resins.

In the press release that presents the research, it is explained that evidently not all these substances are exhausted during the reaction process and that several of them therefore tend to end up in food. Only at high levels do these substances have toxic or carcinogenic effects. The maximum amount ingested calculated by the researchers was still four times lower than the safety level set by the European food safety authorities.

To carry out the research, the researchers analyzed the mother’s milk of 60 US women by detecting 15 different types of photoinitiators, the most common of which was benzophenone which was detected in 97% of the samples and which represented 79% of the total photoinitiator substances.