UV-curable inks, coatings, and adhesives are being increasingly used in food packaging systems. When exposed to UV energy, UV-photoinitiators (PI’s) present in the formulations produce free radicals which catalyze polymerization of monomers and pre-polymers into resins. In addition to photopolymerization, other free radical reactions occur in these systems resulting in the formation of chemically varied photolytic decomposition products, many of which are low molecular weight chemical species with high migration potential. This research conducted model experiments in which 24 commonly used PI’s were exposed to UV-energy at the typical upper limit of commercial UV-printing press conditions. UV-irradiated PI’s were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and electrospray-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) in order to identify photolytic decomposition products. Subsequently, migration studies of 258 UV-cure food packaging samples were conducted using GC-MS; PI’s and photolytic decomposition products were found in nearly all samples analyzed. One hundred-thirteen photolytic decomposition products were identified. Eighteen intact PI’s and 21 photolytic decomposition products were observed as migrants from the 258 samples analyzed, and these were evaluated for frequency of occurrence and migratory concentration range. The most commonly observed PI’s were 2-hydroxy-2-methylpropiophenone and benzophenone. The most commonly observed photolytic decomposition products were 2,4,6-trimethylbenzaldehyde and 1-phenyl-2-butanone. This compilation of PI photolytic decomposition data and associated migration data will aid industry in identifying and tracing non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) in food packaging materials.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited