Antioxidant-Impregnated Polymers / Antioxidant Ability and Interactions with Food

Carolina Wessling

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


Interactions between antioxidant-impregnated low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polypropylene (PP), and oxygen-sensitive foods have been investigated. BHT and a-tocopherol are two antioxidants commonly used in both foods and polymers. In general, BHT was rapidly lost from LDPE film in contact with various foodstuffs. a-Tocopherol was completely retained in PP film, but some losses, although less pronounced than those of BHT, occurred from LDPE film, depending on the nature of the contact medium. In general, fatty foods, especially w/o emulsions, were more prone than water-based foods to interact with the film and, hence, to influence the retention of the antioxidant. While the losses from LDPE film in contact with fatty foods were ascribed to migration, those occurring for contact with water-based foods probably were the result of degradation of the antioxidant. Trace metals, e.g. iron and copper, present in the aqueous media may have caused accelerated degradation of the a-tocopherol, while the presence of ascorbic or citric acid seemed to inhibit this degradation.

In food packaging applications where antioxidants have been incorporated into plastic materials, the antioxidants may have a dual function, i.e. to protect the polymer from oxidative degradation during processing, and to delay the onset of oxidation of the packaged foodstuff during storage. a-Tocopherol-impregnated LDPE film was found to enhance the stability of a linoleic acid emulsion stored at 6°C, while BHT-impregnated LDPE film seemed to reduce odour changes in an oatmeal product stored at 20°C. When investigating the antioxidant ability of impregnated films rather high levels of a-tocopherol were incorporated into the films. These levels were found to cause changes in physical and mechanical properties of the finished materials, e.g. discoloration, increasing oxygen transmission and decreasing impact strength. Thus, before using the concept of intended release of antioxidants from packaging materials to food several factors need to be considered, e.g. that the antioxidant and its degradation products are safe, how the food will benefit from the addition, and that the packaging material will not suffer from inferior properties due to the incorporation of the antioxidant.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2000 May 31
Print ISBNs91-7874-067-3
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2000-05-31
Time: 10:15
Place: Centre for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, seminary room C

External reviewer(s)

Name: Hotchkiss, J. H.
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA


Article: Mobility of a-tocopherol and BHT in LDPE in contact with fatty food simulants.Wessling C, Nielsen T, Leufvén A and Jägerstad MFood Additives and Contaminants, 15:6, 709-715, 1998

Article: Retention of a-tocopherol in low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polypropylene (PP) in contact with foodstuffs and food-simulating liquids.Wessling C, Nielsen T, Leufvén A and Jägerstad MJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 79, 1635-1641, 1999

Article: Influence of trace metals, acids and ethanol in food-simulating liquids on the retention of a-tocopherol in low-density polyethylene film.Wessling C, Nielsen T and Leufvén AFood Additives and Contaminants, (in press)

Article: The influence of a-tocopherol concentration on the stability of linoleic acid and the properties of low-density polyethylene.Wessling C, Nielsen T and Leufvén APackaging Technology and Science, (in press)

Article: Antioxidant ability of BHT and a-tocopherol-impregnated LDPE film in packaging of oatmeal.Wessling C, Nielsen T and Giacin J RJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, (submitted for publication)

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry (011001300)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Food and drink technology
  • shelf-life
  • interactions
  • packaging
  • polymers
  • BHT
  • antioxidants
  • a-tocopherol
  • Livsmedelsteknik


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