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Application of bioassays for safety assessment of paper
and board for food contact

Contract number : QLK1-2001-00930
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 2.025.069
EC contribution : € 998.879
Starting date : 1/12/2001
Duration : 48 Months
Scientific Officer : Achim Boenke
Project website : not yet available
Dr Asloeg Weber
University of Kuopio
Institute of Applied Biotechnology
Neulaniementie 2
70210 Kuopio
Tel.: +358 17 163 129
Fax: +358 17 163 322
E-mail: Assi.Weber @

Application of bioassays for safety assessment of paper
and board for food contact


The paper industry is part of a very important sector, the forest products industry, which includes several other industries as well such as the woodworking industry. If suppliers are added to this sector, the annual production value exceeds 450 billion euros and approximately 5 million people are employed. In the European Union, the legal foundations governing materials and articles coming into contact with food are covered in the Framework Directive 89/109/EEC. In contrast to plastics, ceramics and regenerated cellulose there is, as yet, no specific Directive for paper and board intended for food contact. The Council of Europe has, however, been working for many years on a draft resolution. This resolution is likely to be used as a basis for any future European Commission Directive on paper and board. This resolution states that "Chemical or toxicological screening tests for possible unknown substances are desirable. Furthermore the knowledge about the applicability of toxicological screening tests for paper is insufficient for the time being...". Consequently, based on the above, the paper and board manufacturers are concerned about demonstrating high safety standards for their products and wish to exploit this gap in the existing legislation. Thus, they intend to develop a new methodology for the toxicological testing of their product using realistic tests based on end use applications.


This pre-normative project aims to develop tests for rapid and cost effective detection of contaminants in food contact paper and board materials. The work will be prenormative research to develop, validate and intercalibrate a short term biological test battery for safety assessment of fibre-based food contacts materials. The project will bring together and build upon a number of pre-existing testing methods developed in various national projects. The final methodology should ensure that testing methods are available to ensure that only safe paper and board packaging materials are put onto the market. The final aim is to create a basis for scientifically sound recommendations for a harmonised risk evaluation and product testing and increase the confidence of consumers in the ability of European paper industries to continue to provide safe food contact materials.

(expected) Results and achievements
  • Development and intercalibration of toxicity tests;
  • Validation of new sublethal toxicity tests between partners;
  • Recommendation of a test battery;
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for extraction;
  • Internal and extended audience workshops on results;
  • Decision tree based approach to toxicity testing;
  • Basis for scientifically sound recommendations for harmonised risk evaluation;
  • Improved understanding between stakeholders on risks.


University of Helsinki
Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology
Viikinkaari 9, PO Box 56
00014 University of Helsinki
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Central Science Laboratory
Sand Hutton
YO41 1LZ York
United Kingdom
Université de Bourgogne
Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Biologie Appliquée à la Nutrition et à l'Alimentation
Esplanade Erasme, 1
21000 Dijon
Skogsindustrins Tekniska Forskningsinstitut
Swedish Pulp and Paper Research Institute
Drottning Kristinas Väg 61
PO Box 5604
114 86 Stockholm
Istituto Superiore di Sanità
Laboratorio di Tossicologia Comparata ed Ecotossicologia
Viale Regina Elena 299
00161 Rome
Oy Keskuslaboratorio-Centrallaboratorium Ab
P.O. Box 70
02151 Espoo
National Public Health Institute
Department of Environmental Health
Laboratory of Toxicology
Neulaniementie 4
70210 Kuopio
Centre Technique du Papier
Domaine Universitaire
P.B. 251
38044 Grenoble

Fifth Framework Programme

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