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Derivation of safe exposure levels for potential migration of formaldehyde into food

Gelbke, Heinz-Peter, Buist, Harrie, Eisert, Ralf, Leibold, Edgar, Sherman, James H.
Food and chemical toxicology 2019 v.132 pp. 110598
acidosis, adults, birds, drinking water, equipment, food processing, formaldehyde, formic acid, kidneys, long term effects, metabolites, oral exposure, polymers, rats, sexual maturity, testes, toxicology
Polyoxymethylene (POM) is a polymer of formaldehyde used inter alia for kitchenware and food processing machines. By migration into food, consumers may be exposed to small additional amounts of formaldehyde in food. In order to address such potential exposures, Specific Migration Limits are derived using all studies with oral exposure in mammals and birds. The assessment is not only based on local irritation observed in a 2-year rat study that has previously served to calculate acceptable exposure levels, but also on systemic effects, namely on effects on the kidney in adult rats and testes in birds before sexual maturity. At the relatively high oral exposure levels (up to 2000 ppm in drinking water) long-term effects caused by formic acid, the first step metabolite of formaldehyde, such as acidosis, cannot be excluded. The lowest Specific Migration Limit of 2.74 mg/dm2, corresponding to 16.5 mg formaldehyde/kg food, is based upon kidney effects in rats, leading to potential exposures that range between 2900 and 4400 times below the endogenous turnover of formaldehyde. Lastly, a recent migration study with POM showed that migration of formaldehyde into food simulants is over an order of magnitude below the lowest Specific Migration Limit derived herein.