Migration risks

Migration describes the transfer of a substance from the packaging into the food. One potential migration risk in food packaging is printing inks. These compounds may have been incorporated either intentionally (IAS = intentionally added substances) or unintentionally (NIAS = non-intentionally added substances). NIAS in the ink, for example, may originate from former production steps of the ink raw materials or can be reaction products of ink components, e.g. during crosslinking or curing of the inks. Opens internal link in new windowNIAS may also be caused by a reaction with other packaging components or can result from cross-contamination during the production or application of the ink.

Whether a substance is a NIAS or IAS, however, depends on each company’s perspective within the packaging value chain. For example, a substance that our raw material supplier has added intentionally might be a NIAS from our perspective as ink manufacturer. At Siegwerk, we do not make any distinction between IAS and NIAS because what counts in terms of consumer safety is that for each migratable substance a risk assessment is performed.

Click through our interactive animation and learn more about different types of migration, migrations risks, permeability, barriers and still more topics. In case you should have any questions, we are glad to help you!

  • Permeability of packaging materials

    The migration of printing inks depends on the material properties. While glass is considered an absolute barrier with no permeability, board is highly permeable. Even rigid materials such as PE films provide less barrier functions than other plastic materials, e.g. PET.

  • Different types of migration

    Migration can occur in several ways, for example by set-off, diffusion and gas-phase transfer.

  • Migration Animation

    Watch our video-demonstration to get to know different ways of how migration takes place and see how a mass transfer can be reduced or entirely avoided. 

    Play video
  • Contact us

    Do you have any questions? Do not hesitate to contact our food packaging ink experts.


Set-off migration

Set-off migration denotes the transfer from ink to the reverse side of a substrate (reels, stacks, piles, etc.), which later is in direct contact with food.


Diffusion migration

Here, diffusion takes place across packaging materials into food (or gas transfer). Even rigid materials such as PE bottles are not always a sufficient barrier.


Gas-phase migration

Migrants can also migrate from a cardboard (releasing reservoir) via the gas phase within the pack and finally to the food (recipient reservoir). Examples include mineral oils or environmental contaminations.