Health & Safety

How can you tell if a screen ink is suitable for use on food products and packaging?

Several items must be looked at before one can determine if a screen printing ink is suitable for use on food products or food packaging.

First, is the ink going to be in direct or indirect contact with the food product? A processing or packaging component (ink) which is intended to be in immediate contact with the food is a direct contact material. An example is the inside surface of a bread bag which does come into contact with the loaf of bread. Indirect contact is only occasional or minimal contact with a food product. The outside surface of a bread bag is a good example of indirect contact. If a material will be in direct contact with food, it must be composed only of direct or indirect food additives as found in 21 CFR 170-189. Please note that none of Nazdar's inks are composed of direct or indirect food additives, and therefore are not suited for direct food contact use.

The second item in determining whether or not screen printing ink can be used in food applications is the presence of a food-contact-approved functional barrier. The FDA states that if there is a food-contact-approved functional barrier (e.g., resinous coating, protective film, transparent cover, etc.) separating printed material from the food, then such use of printing ink is not a food-additive situation. The functional barrier must be of sufficient thickness and continuity that it prevents the ink from passing through the coating and migrating to the food. The manufacturer of the barrier must employ good manufacturing practices to ensure that the barrier has formed a continuous coating so that no pinholing is present and the barrier is of sufficient thickness to prevent ink migration.