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Study on the influence of temperature, storage time and packaging type on di-n-butylphthalate and di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate release into packed meals

Cirillo, Teresa, Fasano, Evelina, Esposito, Francesco, Prete, Ernesto Del, Cocchieri, Renata Amodio
Food additives & contaminants 2013 v.30 no.2 pp. 403-411
aluminum, carts, food packaging, hospitals, patients, phthalates, plastics, polyethylene, ready-to-eat foods, storage time, temperature, Italy
Ready-to-eat meals packed in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and aluminium dishes, supplied to patients in two hospitals in the Campania region (Italy), were studied to evaluate the probable migration of di-n-butylphthalate (DBP) and di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) from the packaging into the food. The influence of temperature, storage time and type of package on the migration process was considered, analysing the meals according to three time ranges, before the packaging (T₀) and after 60 min (T₁) and 120 min (T₂) from packaging during the storage in thermostatic delivery carts. At T₀ in the meals sampled before packaging in PET dishes, mean levels of DBP and DEHP were 0.023 ± 0.002 µg/g and 0.069 ± 0.041 µg/g, respectively; the DBP level increased 230% and that of DEHP increased 208% by time T₀ versus T₂. In the meals sampled before packaging (T₀) in aluminium dishes, the mean levels of DBP and DEHP were 0.030 ± 0.001 µg/g and 0.057 ± 0.015 µg/g, respectively. The significant increase in contaminant levels over storage times for meals packed in PET dishes demonstrates that from packages made of plastic materials the migration of phthalic acid esters into foods is possible. In meals packed in PET dishes, the highest DBP and DEHP increases were observed in the T₀ to T₁ range, which represented the time interval over which meals were kept hot, and mainly in the first ones, where the highest temperatures have been recorded.