There are two stages that a glove manufacturer must go through to ensure that a plastic article is suitable for food contact use:
- Ensure that the product formulation only contains substances listed in EU Regulation 10/2011 (plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs). This is a positive list whereby the product concerned can only be made from the materials listed in this directive.
- Perform either specific or total migration testing or both to ensure that the article in contact with food does not leach anything into the food. This is detailed in the EN1186 series of standards (materials and articles in contact with foodstuffs – plastics).
If both of these criteria are met, the following symbol can be applied to the glove and/or packaging:
This set of standards lays down what chemicals can be used to replicate various food types in addition to the methods to be used. There are 4 food stuffs defined:
- Aqueous: where plain water is used as the food simulant
- Alcoholic: where 10% ethanol solution is used as the food simulant
- Acidic: where 3% acetic acid solution is used as the food simulant
- Fatty: where various equivalents are used as the food stimulant. Typically these are iso-octane, 95% ethanol or olive oil.
There is a maximum overall migration limit from the article into the food of 10mg/dm2, any article being used in contact with food must meet this requirement.
There are also correction factors that can be applied to the migration results of fatty foods. This is based on the fat content of the food and the ability of a particular foodstuff to extract component(s) out of an article in contact with food. Highly fatty foods such as oils have no reduction factors, while meats have a reduction factor of 4.
This means that even when the overall migration limit of 10mg/dm2 is exceeded, the article may still be suitable for use depending on the type of food being handled.