Printech Archive
Re: Food Grade FDA Approved Inks

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Date: Thu Jul 08 1999 - 23:34:25 CDT

Dear William:

The difficulty you are having with finding an "FDA approved" ink lies in the
fact that FDA does not approve products per say, but only ingredients. FDA
will only review and approve specific chemicals for direct food contact.
These chemicals are placed on a GRAS list. GRAS means Generally Recognized As
Safe. In some instances, there are concentration limits placed on these
specific chemicals. In order for you to obtain a FDA approved ink all of its
individual components must be first approved and so the resultant mixture
will then also be approved. A previous email mentioned ColorCon located near
Philadelphia [(215) 661-2505] which is one supplier who produces inks with
approved ingredients.

With direct food contact inks you also have to be concerned about the type of
food it will be in contact with and will the food react with the ink. Some
foods are acidic while others are fatty and they can cause problems with the
ink and can contaminate the food. While the ingredients may be safe, many
consumers would not like to see multicolored food!

The best way to avoid these problems and the use of the more expensive inks
is to provide a functional barrier between the food and the ink. These
situations are referred to as indirect or noncontact and there are no
regulations for these inks. Examples of function barriers are to polywrap or
the actual package itself. Most printers try to find a way to use a
functional barrier to avoid the problems associated with direct food contact.

If you give me your address I have a package of material on the subject that
I can send.

Gary Jones
Graphic Arts Technical Foundation

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