Food Contact Materials and Packaging Migration

Food Contact Materials and Packaging Migration

Identify all suspects in food packaging

A Food Contact Material (FCM) is any material approved for food use that comes in contact with food or drink products during manufacturing, packaging, preparation, and storage. They can be made from a variety of materials including plastics, rubber, paper, and metal. The safety of a FCM must be evaluated, as chemicals can migrate from the materials into the food. Food packaging and drinks packaging must be manufactured in compliance with regulations, including good manufacturing practices, so that any potential transfer to foods does not raise food safety concerns, change the composition of the food or have adverse effects on the taste or odor of the product.

The analysis and identification of packaging impurities involve a diverse range of chemicals; from volatiles to high molecular weight non-volatile molecules and even metals. It is essential that they are monitored as they can be toxic to both humans and animals. Targeted and non-targeted packaging migration and food contact material testing is used to identity such compounds, using a wide range of chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques.

Food contact materials analysis

Sample extraction    Volatile analysis    Semi-volatile analysis    Non-volatile analysis    Elemental impurities


Sample extraction

Traditional Soxhlet or reflux techniques, used routinely for extractables and leachables testing, are labor intensive often accounting for more than twice the time spent on actual chromatography. They typically require over 24 hours for extraction and consume large quantities of solvent (>150 mL/sample).


Thermo Fisher Scientific offer automated sample preparation solutions to simplify the process for such demanding extractions, allowing for a reduction in time and repetitive functions, while still providing highly reproducible results.

Dionex ASE 350 Accelerated Solvent Extractor

Use the Thermo Scientific™ Dionex™ ASE 350 system to save time and solvent, and get comparable or more efficient solvent extractions from your food packaging materials compared to traditional Soxhlet methods. Conditions can be carefully controlled to ensure that the material is not deformed or damaged during the extraction process.

Featured sample extraction resources


Volatile analysis

Improved sample handling includes the use of autosamplers that can reduce turnaround times and significantly reduce the cost per analysis. Using automated systems, particularly headspace autosamplers, when analyzing for organic volatiles in food contact materials can increase sample turnaround time and in turn lower costs for high throughput laboratories.

TriPlus 300 Headspace Autosampler

Automate organic volatile testing of food packaging materials to increase sample turnaround and reduce the cost per analysis. With its valve-and-loop system, the Thermo Scientific™ TriPlus™ 300 Headspace Autosampler offers fast startup, high productivity, and maximum flexibility for any lab analyzing organic volatiles in food contact materials by GC or GC-MS. This comprehensive sample handling solution is ideal for regulated food safety applications.

TRACE 1310 Gas Chromatograph

The Thermo Scientific™ TRACE™ 1310 GC is the best choice for larger food testing laboratories and research organizations testing for migration in food packaging. This robust GC system features a full touch screen user interface for easy instrument control, status monitoring, and on-instrument method development.

ISQ 7000 Single Quadrupole GC-MS System

Perform routine food contact material testing using the ISQ 7000 Single Quadrupole GC-MS system. This GC-MS system offers time-proven performance and productivity, where full scan and SIM mode is simultaneous in one injection for qualitative and quantitative analysis. The ISQ system’s new source design provides continuous high-throughput operation with nonstop productivity.

Dionex Chromeleon Chromatography Data System (CDS)

Manage the entire food contact material testing laboratory process—from instrument control, to raw data storage and processing, right through to generating the final results—using gold-standard chromatography software.

Featured volatile analysis resources

  •  Brochure: TriPlus 300 Headspace Autosampler—A reliable solution for organic volatiles applications. In many modern laboratories, sample preparation often accounts for more than twice the time spent on the actual analysis.
  •  Specification sheet: TRACE 1310 Gas Chromatograph—Boost productivity, accelerate response times and lower cost of ownership with the Thermo Scientific™ TRACE 1310 Gas Chromatograph. The system is ideal for QA/QC, production and research and features instant-connect injectors and detectors.
  •  Brochure: ISQ 7000 Single Quadrupole GC-MS System – Now You're Unstoppable—The ISQ single quadrupole GC-MS system features time-proven technology offering an affordable and robust solution. This GC-MS system offers operational simplicity, proven dependability, and unstoppable productivity.

Semi-volatile analysis

Semi-volatile organic impurities are a complex range of chemicals that often require high selectivity and sensitivity analysis for identification and quantification. High-resolution, accurate-mass (HRAM) mass spectrometry is a perfect solution. Interferences are resolved for the cleanest of spectra and enable confident identification of unknowns while still achieving accurate quantification at the lowest levels.

Certified Vial Kits

Perform your analyses with confidence knowing that these certified vial kits are fully lot tested for HPLC and GC food packaging analysis.

Q Exactive GC Orbitrap GC-MS/MS

Get comprehensive with high confidence discovery, identification, and quantitation of food contact materials and packaging migration samples from a single analysis. The Thermo Scientific™ GC Orbitrap™ GC-MS/MS offers the quantitative power of a GC triple quadrupole MS combined with the high precision, full scan high resolution accurate mass (HRAM) capabilities. This system is ideal for the analysis of non-intentionally added substances (NIAS), phthalates in food, and bisphenol A (BPA) in canned food and beverages.

TriPlus RSH Autosampler

Accurate, repeatable sample preparation and sample introduction are essential to achieving the highest quality GC and GC-MS results when analyzing for food contact materials and food packaging migration contaminants. The Thermo Scientific™ TriPlus™ RSH Autosampler automates this whole workflow—from standard dilution to injection—to improve the precision and reproducibility of your data, as well as the productivity of your lab.

TraceFinder Software

Use the Thermo Scientific™ TraceFinder™ software with HRAM and/or triple stage quadrupole (TSQ) mass spectrometers in targeted screening and routine quantitation. The software is highly flexibility, ensures increased productivity, and allows you to address analytical challenges today and tomorrow.

Featured semi-volatile analysis resources

  •  Brochure: TriPlus RSH Autosampler Integrated Sampling System—Utilizing robotic sample handling to expand automated capabilities beyond liquid, headspace and solid-phase microextraction (SPME), offering exceptional precision, unmatched flexibility and ultimate productivity.
  •  Brochure: Unprecedented Depth in GC-MS Analysis—For years, scientists have demanded a high-resolution, accurate-mass (HR/AM) system in food contact material analysis. These scientists understand the power that only Thermo Scientific Orbitrap™ technology can bring to the detailed characterization of their most challenging samples.
  •  White paper: The Power of High Resolution Accurate Mass using Orbitrap-based GC-MS—The high resolving power of the system facilitates outstanding mass accuracy, and this combination can be used in a number of food contact materials areas where high confidence in compound discovery, screening, identification, and quantification is required.

Non-volatile analysis

Non-volatile food contact material compounds, for example phthalates, are amongst the hardest to identify. Identify and confirm more compounds rapidly and with confidence by using a benchtop LC-MS/MS system. By combining UHPLC with quadruple precursor ion selection and high-resolution, accurate-mass (HRAM) detection it is possible to deliver exceptional results.

Vanquish UHPLC System, Integrated system

This high-end UHPLC is the new standard in UHPLC, delivering more results with better separations and easier interaction simultaneously, without compromise. A fully integrated system, the Thermo Scientific™ Vanquish™ UHPLC systemfeatures high sample capacity for high throughput workflows in busy food testing laboratories.

Q Exactive Focus Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap Mass Spectrometer

For polymer additives and monomers in food and food packaging analysis, identify and confirm more compounds rapidly and with confidence. This benchtop LC-MS/MS system combines industry leading chromatography with quadruple precursor ion selection and HRAM Orbitrap technology to deliver exceptional performance and versatility.

Compound Discoverer software

Strategically collect, organize, store, and report data for both targeted and untargeted high resolution analyses using Thermo Scientific™ Compound Discoverer™ software, and simplify data processing for food contact materials and packaging migration testing.

Featured non-volatile analysis resources


Elemental impurities

Elemental impurities are common in printed materials, pigments, foil packaging and also delivery systems. Meet the most challenging regulatory requirements for trace metals analysis in packaging migration and food contact materials.


Expand your analytical capabilities and maximize productivity and robustness of your high-throughput lab using the Thermo Scientific™ iCAP RQ ICP-MS system. This complete trace elemental analysis solution is especially ideal for analyzing nanoparticles in food packaging. The system’s simplicity and ease-of-use work in concert to streamline workflows and achieve right-first-time results, which is essential to all busy food safety and beverage labs. 

Qtegra Intelligent Scientific Data Solution Software

Minimize training, automate workflows, simplify your experience, and improve efficiency. Designed for workflow, scalability, compliance and data management, Thermo Scientific™ Qtegra™ ISDS software provides essential tools for consistent, accurate analysis.

Featured elemental impurities resources


Featured instrument videos

View these videos to learn more about our food and beverage analytical solutions using the most comprehensive line of instruments, equipment, consumables, chemicals, reagents and software available, or click here to visit the food and beverage video library.



Safety assessment of food contact materials


The Role of High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS) in the Comprehensive Analysis of the Total Migrate


This white paper describes the issue of chemicals migrating into food from packaging materials, the need to assess the safety of those chemicals that migrate, and the role that HRMS has to play in the related analysis.


Download the white paper ›

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