Silver nanoparticle release from commercially available plastic food containers into food simulants


Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are currently being used in many different kinds of consumer products in order to take advantage of their antimicrobial properties. However, the potential migration of silver nanoparticles into food and subsequent consumer exposure has hardly been addressed. In the current study, we investigated four brands of commercially available plastic food storage containers and measured the total amount of silver, particle size and number concentration, and the migration rates into three different food simulants (Milli-Q grade water, 10 % ethanol, and 3 % acetic acid) for 10 days at 40 °C. The experimental setup was made according to the European Commission Directive (EU 10/2011) for articles intended to be in contact with food. The total amount of silver in plastic containers and migration solutions was quantified by ICP-MS analysis, and the size of the migrated particles was investigated by single particle ICP-MS and TEM-EDS. The total mass and median size of released particulate Ag were generally highest in 3 % acetic acid for three out of four food container brands. The total content of silver in the containers varied from 13 to 42 µg/g. The highest migration was observed in the 3 % acetic acid food simulant for all four brands of containers, with total silver release up to 3.1 ng/cm2 after 10 days. In conclusion, the experimental results show that silver has the potential of migrating into food, especially when in contact with more acidic substances.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007–2013] under EC-GA No. 604305 ‘SUN.’ We sincerely thank our lab technicians Susanne Kruse and Sinh Hy Nguyen for their contribution to this work.

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Correspondence to Aiga Mackevica.

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Mackevica, A., Olsson, M.E. & Hansen, S.F. Silver nanoparticle release from commercially available plastic food containers into food simulants. J Nanopart Res 18, 5 (2016).

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  • Silver nanoparticles
  • Consumer products
  • Nanoparticle release
  • Consumer exposure
  • Environmental and health effects
  • Food safety