Use of Cabot Carbon Blacks in Food-Contact Plastics

European Union

The first version of this page (posted in December 2006) outlined the intention of the European Union to replace the maze of different requirements which covered the use of carbon black in food-contact plastics in the various member states by creating an entry for it in the "monomers and additives" Directive.

The amendment was published as Directive 2002/72/EC and laid down the following purity requirements:

  • Toluene extract: < 0.1 % using ISO 6209
  • UV absorption at 386 nm of cyclohexane extract: < 0.02 absorbance in a 1 cm cell or < 0.1 absorbance in a 5 cm cell using the German BfR method
  • Benzo[a]pyrene content: < 250 ppb
  • A maximum loading limit of 2.5 % would also apply in all cases

The requirements of Directive 2002/72/EC have been carried forward in the entry for carbon black in Regulation 10/2011 ("PIM").

Transition to the new requirements was completed at the end of April 2009 and only material complying with the above requirements may now be used in food-contact plastics in any of the member states.

Cabot have adopted a policy similar to that they use for FDA-compliant carbon blacks : a number of grades are being routinely tested for compliance and these are the only ones suitable for food-contact plastics use in the EU.

For information as to which Cabot grades are suitable for food-contact use in the EU, please contact your JMB sales representative or contact us directly (details on our home-page).


The use of carbon black in food-contact plastics in the USA is controlled by the FDA and authorised by 21 CFR § 178.3297.In this document, there are two entries referring to
carbon black:

A) Carbon black (channel black, prepared by the impingement process from stripped natural gas)

Such material may be used without any specific purity requirements or maximum loading restriction. Manufacture by this method is no longer economic and no supplier for such material exists.

B) High purity furnace black

Carbon black produced by this process is authorised for use in food-contact plastic applications provided:

  • total polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon content is below 0.5 ppm
  • benzo[a]pyrene content is below 5 ppb
  • the maximum permitted loading is 2.5%

All batches of Cabot grades Black Pearls 4350, Black Pearls 4750 and Monarch 4750 are subject to routine testing for conformity with the FDA requirements for high purity furnace black. Further information covering such material can be supplied on request.

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