Identifying Baby Food Pouch Migrants and Evaluating their Potential Risk

It is widely known that food contact materials could bring contaminants to the food within, e.g., the common plasticiser BPA. These contaminants, known as “migrants”, can lead to potential health risks. In recent years, a new type of packaging known as multi-layer plastic packaging, has been rapidly developing and is heavily used in baby food puree packaging as well as breastmilk storage bags. By combining different thin layers of materials, food pouches are easy to use while providing extra protection for the food. However, just like other food containers, food pouches could also introduce foreign chemicals into the food. Previous research has proved that the migrants from food pouches are very complex, as they see new chemicals formed with different components including plastic monomers, impurities, and additives. Since these chemicals are not intentionally added, the knowledge about them is highly limited. It is not only hard to identify them, but also hard to perform toxicity assessments. On the other hand, infants, as the major consumer of food pouches, are still developing their body functions and thus more likely to be affected by those migrants.

This project’s main aim has two parts. First, by adapting the EU recommended method, the food pouches and breastmilk storage bags that are available in Australia will be screened to create a target chemical list. Then, the listed chemicals' potential for migration will be tested using real food/breastmilk. The confirmed migratable chemicals with higher concentrations or potential health risks will be chosen for further study to understand the potential of uptaking those chemicals into our bodies. The target list could help to promote similar studies by providing a starting point, while the digestion/uptake study outcomes can be used as guidance for future risk assessment.

Conference Presentations

Tang, C., Gomez Ramos, M.J., Kaserzon, S., Rauert, C., Mueller, J., Heffernan, A., Lin, C. & Wang, X. Characterizing chemical migrants from major baby food pouch brands available in the Australian market, SETAC-AU Conference 2021, Melbourne, Australia, 30 August – 2 September 2021.

Tang, C., Gomez Ramos, M.J. Kaserzon, S., Mueller, J. & Wang, X. Assessing the migration of unintentionally added substances from breastmilk storage plastic containers, SETAC-AU Conference 2023, Townsville, Australia, 7 - 11 August 2023.

Research Outputs

Tang, C., Ramos, M.J.G., Heffernan, A., Kaserzon, S., Rauert, C., Lin, C.Y., Mueller, J.F. and Wang, X., 2023. Evaluation and identification of chemical migrants leached from baby food pouch packaging. Chemosphere340, p.139758.

Awards and Prizes
  • 2021 What's In Our Water Best Student Oral Presentation Runner-up for Characterizing chemical migrants from major baby food pouch brands available in the Australian market


Project members

Cheng (Ken) Tang

PhD Candidate

Dr Xianyu (Fisher) Wang

Senior Research Fellow

Prof Jochen Mueller

Theme Leader, Emerging Environmental Health Risks