It is current practice to test all new additives for packaging polymers for toxicity before permitting them to be used in food contact applications. However, many antioxidants and stabilizers act sacrificially and are converted to oxidation products in the process of preventing polymer degradation. In most cases, little is known about the toxicity of antioxidant transformation products, and in some cases there is reason to suspect that they may be more toxic than the chemicals from which they are derived. Two possible solutions are presently showing promise. The first is to chemically react the antioxidant or stabilizer with the polymer, either at the polymer synthesis stage or preferably during processing, so that neither the antioxidant nor its transformation products can be leached into food. The second is to use a biological antioxidant (e.g. α-tocopherol) whose oxidation chemistry and toxicology are known.
- © 1995 The Biochemical Society