Recycled paper is commonly used in food packaging industry, especially for disposable products. The material coming into direct contact with food products must not represent a source of contamination for food in accordance with the Framework Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 containing the general requirements on all food contact materials. In the present study, the microbial purity of 31 paper-based materials with different contents of recycled matter (0–100%) was evaluated using a standard method based on the disintegration of paper. The results of the present study indicate the existing relation between the use of recycled fibers and the content of microorganisms. The increased amount of recycled fibers significantly increased the amount of bacteria in the paper samples. The highest content of microorganisms was observed in the case of paper with the highest recycled fiber content. Total counts of bacteria ranged from 5.0 × 101 to 1.2 × 105 CFU/g. Moulds were detected only in three paper samples. As the microorganisms present in food packaging may penetrate into foodstuffs (particularly those with high contents of water or fat) and have an adverse effect on end-consumers’ health, microbial criteria for food packaging should be included into the EU legislation.
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