Food contact compliant additives for water based inks and adhesives

Blog Archive | 4 minute read  | Author: Ian Brown , BSc.

Defoamers, Thickeners and Wetting & Levelling Agents for Food Contact Applications


Food packaging is an integral part of our everyday lives and today’s consumers have high expectations of packaging aesthetics, performance and safety. Packaging manufacturers require adhesives and inks that fulfil their technical purpose in bonding and printing, whilst meeting or surpassing the ever increasing burden of regulatory compliance surrounding direct or indirect food contact. There are additional pressures to improve environmental credentials and to address media-driven concerns, such as the use of mineral oils. Balancing these requirements with technical performance can prove to be a challenge for the formulation chemist.

MÜNZING CHEMIE have a broad portfolio of additives for the ink and adhesive formulator, which are used in the development of products designed to meet the ever increasing demands of the end user. Lawrence Industries is the exclusive UK distributor for MÜNZING CHEMIE in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Today, the most common packaging adhesive types are:

  • PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) based adhesives for packaging assembly.
  • Pressure Sensitive Adhesives (PSA) for label stock.
  • Heat-seal adhesives, most commonly found on confectionery wrapping.
  • Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVOH) and starch-based adhesives, for paper and board manufacture.

In order to comply with the most common food contact regulations (FDA 21 CfR 175.105, BfR XIV and EC10/2011), the formulator can select from a range of additives, including: AGITAN® (defoamers), METOLAT® (surface wetting agents) and TAFIGEL® (acrylic and polyurethane thickeners). Not only have many of the products on these ranges been formulated with food contact requirements in mind, but are also manufactured from renewable/sustainable resources of non-fossil fuel origin.

An excellent example would be METOLAT® 368. This wetting agent offers excellent dynamic wetting properties and meets nearly all food contact regulations. It is comprised of 99% bio-based renewable raw materials. METOLAT® 368 can be used successfully where dioctyl sulphosuccinates (DOSS) are traditionally used; in achieving excellent substrate wetting when used in pressure sensitive adhesive formulations. A key advantage of METOLAT® 368 over DOSS is a much reduced foaming, whilst still also having a high efficacy.

Water based packaging inks and adhesives have to comply with very similar regulatory requirements to one another, however the inks usually need to also conform with Swiss Ordinance Annex 10 (this used to be regarding Annex 6 List A). Many of the grades from MÜNZING CHEMIE can be used in both food packaging adhesives and inks, however there are some interesting additives which were developed with the ink formulator in mind.

Among the recent developments in the TAFIGEL® range of polyurethane HEUR thickeners are TAFIGEL® PUR 54 and TAFIGEL® PUR 82. In addition to standard BfR, EC and FDA compliance, they are also classified in Annex 10 of the Swiss Ordinance regulations: making these rheological modifiers a valuable addition to the ink formulator’s toolbox.

The MÜNZING CHEMIE range of additives is further complemented by their CERETAN and LUBA-print range of micronized waxes and wax dispersions. Some of these are based on natural waxes that can be used in direct food contact applications.

In addition to a range of innovative products for the ink and adhesive formulator, MÜNZING CHEMIE can also offer extensive technical support at their state-of-the-art technical centre. See next week's article from Martin Scott for more information on this service, or call today to speak with one of our technical sales managers. To discuss your requirement with one of our technical sales team please call us on 01827 314151.

For further information on the TAFIGEL® thickeners in food contact applications please see the presentation. More information can also be found on the MÜNZING CHEMIE homepage.


Author: Ian Brown , BSc.

Ian has a technical background in Chemistry and Materials Science, having studied at the University of Greenwich and then having worked in a technical capacity for both the MOD and Synthomer. Since then he has held various sales positions and is now one of the longest serving members of the Lawrence Industries team. Ian's specialities are in the coatings, adhesives, construction and graphic arts sectors.