Non-Intentionally Added Substances (NIAS) are chemical compounds very different in nature that may appear in polymeric raw materials and also in end and semi-finished products from them during processing. Due to the unknown nature of these chemical species and their possible dangerous effect on humans, the food-contact plastics legislation has emphasized the risks of NIAS, in addition to working with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to reduce their presence.
In 2017, AIJU, the Technological research institute for Children Products and Leisure, tackled systematically the analysis of NIAS in food-contact plastic materials as a research within the project CONTROLNIAS. During 2018, progresses and results obtained have allowed such investigation to continue within the project ‘Development of an innovative methodology to identify and assess the risks of NIAS in food-contact plastics’, NIASAFE, developed together with AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre and AINIA technology centre as coordinator.
The interaction with food will be also studied, in particular, the possible appearing of NIAS in the preservation thermal processing of packaged food and in their subsequent cooking.
The project aims at covering also the toxicological assessment of the substances found and the performance of the corresponding risk analysis, so cytotoxicity and genotoxicity analysis systems will be incorporated.
Therefore, two currents of interest are being tackled in the study of NIAS: control and elimination. On the one hand, it will be addressed from the analytical-chemical point of view and on the other hand, from the point of view of advances to assess rigorously the exposure to a toxicological risk to health. This last point will be carried out by means of cell cultures at AINIA’s bioassays laboratories.
Given that the level of analytical technologies and knowledge needed to reach that objective is so high, AIMPLAS, together with AIJU and AINIA, is developing a methodology to identify and control NIAS, to be made available to SMEs so that they can ensure compliance with the food-contact plastics legislation.
The project NIASAFE was recently approved by the Valencian Institute of Business Competitiveness (IVACE) and cofounded by UE ERDF funds within the ERDF Operational Programme for the Valencian Community 2014-2020. When complete, the transference and dissemination of the identification and control methodologies developed is foreseen to companies from the Valencian Community throughout the entire value chain, from the manufacturing of packaging or article’s raw materials to the packaging of food or the final use in contact with food, so that SMEs can apply them to know and reduce the exposure risks due to the formation of unknown substances (NIAS), which will benefit Valencian consumers.