The phthalate-free plasticizer Mesamoll® II manufactured by German specialty chemicals group LANXESS Mesamoll® II has received food contact approval from the US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) since 2007. Furthermore, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its scientific opinion on the additive at the end of 2009. These findings concluded that alkyl (C10-C21) sulfonic acid phenyl ester, the chemical component of the plasticizer Mesamoll® II, does not pose a risk to humans when used to manufacture toys or in dry and water-based food packaging applications. A positive evaluation from the EFSA is generally the final step before European approval for these areas of application is granted. LANXESS expects to receive official approval from the European Commission in the fall of 2010.
When this is granted, Mesamoll® II would be one of the few plasticizers deemed suitable for use in food packaging in both the United States and Europe. Additionally, the approval will also have a positive effect on the use of Mesamoll® II in toys.
"In 2009, we decided to focus actively on the toys market again with Mesamoll® II," says Jorge Nogueira, head of the Functional Chemicals business unit at LANXESS. "The products for the toy industry exported each year by China alone contain 35,000 metric tons of plasticizer worth more than EUR 60 million – and that represents just a small portion of overall global demand. We are keen to expand our share in this market. If, as expected, we gain the necessary approval for use with foodstuffs, it would represent a crucial leap forward and show toy manufacturers that Mesamoll II is a safe option," adds Nogueira.
In recent years, the toy industry in western countries has repeatedly been the focus of widespread debate on the risks posed by certain plasticizers. On several occasions, products containing additives deemed to be potentially harmful have had to be taken off the shelves. For that reason, providers in this industry are particularly interested in safer alternatives. Usually, that means they opt for plasticizers that have been approved for use in food contact applications. However, very few of these plasticizers meet the strict requirements set by the appropriate authorities in both the United States and Europe.
"We see great potential for Mesamoll® II in this area," says Karsten Job, Director Marketing Polymer Additives in the Functional Chemicals business unit. "We are supplying our customers with a safe plasticizer that – once official approval is granted and due to its global compliance – will make it much easier for manufacturers to market their products worldwide as of the fall of 2010."
According to the EFSA recommendation, alkyl (C10-C21) sulfonic acid phenyl ester – the active chemical ingredient of the plasticizer Mesamoll® II – is deemed to be harmless in all products where migration does not exceed 0.05 mg/kg of foodstuff, and where there is no possibility of contact with fatty foods. "According to our calculations, the value for water-based and dry food contact applications is well within the stipulated range provided the product is used correctly," concludes Karsten Job of LANXESS.
Mesamoll® II is a particularly beneficial product for the plastics processing industry as it has faster gelling characteristics than standard plasticizers – at lower operating temperatures. This considerably reduces production and processing times and lowers manufacturing costs. The particularly good saponification resistance of this plasticizer prolongs the life of PVC. Furthermore, PVC film containing Mesamoll® II displays excellent heat-sealing characteristics, and in contrast to many conventional plasticizers, products manufactured with Mesamoll® II have excellent weathering resistance and printability.
Mesamoll® II is suitable for a large number of applications which include food packaging, toys, gloves, film for water beds, sealants and casting compounds for the construction sector, as well as swimming floats and rubber boots.
The Functional Chemicals business unit is part of the Performance Chemicals segment, which achieved total sales in fiscal 2009 of EUR 1,530 million.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 5.06 billion in 2009 and currently around 14,400 employees in 23 countries. The company is represented at 42 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.