How To Ensure a Compliant Printing Environment With Low-Migration Inks
As converters and printers everywhere strive to meet the industry standard for food safety and packaging requirements in a very complex regulatory environment, label printers are tasked with providing labels that follow ink migration limits — after all, ingredients in some inks are known harmful substances. Migration describes the chemical exchange that can happen through to food and beverage products, and the functionality of the substrate/barrier that creates that package. But it’s not that simple! Migration can be divided into four categories:
- Direct Migration
- Through Migration
- Set-Off Migration
- Vapor Phase Migration
All these individual forms can have an effect on the safety and the regulatory compliance of the product.
Regulatory Requirements for Low-Migration Inks
Firstly, the ink itself should meet all relevant regional and global regulations and standards for the end use of the product. Therefore, converters should be mindful of several regulations, including the following.
- Swiss Ordinance Annex 6 A & B listed raw materials
- Nestle 2018 Exclusion List Compliance
- EUPIA Exclusion List SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern)
- CONEG / TPCH TSCA / REACH
- FDA Migration Models
Crafting a Compliant Printing Process with Low-Migration Inks
Step 1: Ensuring a compliant printing environment with low-migration inks is essential. To begin, the entire press should be wiped down with a citrus-based cleaner followed by Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) prior to each run if you don’t have a dedicated press for running low-migration inks and coatings only. This includes all press parts from the idler and roller wheels to other specific components such as impression cylinders, ink pans, metering rolls, anilox, and doctor blade assemblies. Proper cleaning will guarantee that any residual contaminants from a non-low migration product are removed before introducing low migration inks into the press.
Step 2: If you're looking to incorporate low-migration inks into your printing process, one of the factors that might cross your mind is if there are any specific set-up requirements. The answer is NO; the setup requirements for low migration inks remain consistent with those of non-low migration inks.
Step 3: When printing labels and packaging that require low migration/indirect contact inks, it is critical ONLY to use low migration inks regardless of whether the product needs to adhere to these regulations or not.
The Promising Solution? Low Migration Inks
Using selected components, these clever inks are specially formulated to ensure that migration from the ink film is within acceptable limits, which helps to reduce the risk of food contamination from ink migration and make sure that your packaging is safe. Therefore, these advanced inks are vital in ensuring consumer safety in food contact, cosmetics, nutraceutical packaging, and many more applications.
For example, ACTEGA developed its SafeShield range of low-migration inks for use in the printing and production of food packaging, making for safer markets for consumers around the world. Tested both internally and externally by the top industry laboratories, ACTExact SafeShield UV-LED inks provide compliance with all regulatory requirements. ACTEGA SafeShield inks also offer comparable quality to non-low-migration inks. This product range combats all these migration types mentioned above except for direct migration.
By following these guidelines and using low-migration inks, such as ACTExact SafeShield UV-LED inks, you can create a safe and compliant printing environment while simultaneously reducing the risk of contamination from ink migration onto food and other products. By working with the right solutions and paying careful attention to preparation and application processes, converters will feel confident that their products will exceed expectations for safety, reliability, and quality while remaining compliant with current regulations and beyond.
Mark Lambert is a product manager for flexible packaging at ACTEGA, a division of the internationally operating specialty chemicals group ALTANA. With production facilities in Europe, North and South America, and China, ACTEGA develops, produces, and distributes specialty coatings, inks, adhesives, and sealing compounds with a focus on the packaging industry. Following the motto "Packed with Expertise", ACTEGA does not only offer technically sophisticated product solutions, but also meets the high safety standards of the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and toy industries. Whether for flexible and metal packaging, folding cartons, or labels, products by ACTEGA provide packaging with a high-quality appearance and innovative functionalities.