Exposure to antimony from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) trays used in ready-to-eat meals

Food Addit Contam. 2007 Aug;24(8):860-8. doi: 10.1080/02652030701297511.


Antimony residues, a result of the use of a polycondensation catalyst in the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) oven-proof trays, were analysed in ready-to-eat meals. The toxicity of antimony has raised concerns about consumer safety; therefore, the migration of small fractions of these residues into ready meals and foods as a result of cooking directly in the PET trays was studied. A straightforward approach of measuring real samples was selected to obtain accurate exposure data. Background antimony concentration was determined separately from a series of lunch meals, which ranged from not detectable to 3.4 microg kg(-1). Microwave and conventional oven-cooking caused a distinct increase in the concentration of antimony in food and ready meals of 0-17 and 8-38 microg kg(-1), respectively, depending, to a certain extent, on the industrial preparations. The migrated quantities of antimony corresponded to 3-13 microg. For comparison, PET roasting bags and ready-made dough products in PET baking dishes were also evaluated. About half of the products prepared at a temperature of 180 degrees C exceeded the specific migration limit set for food contact material by the European Commission. However, the migrated amounts of antimony relative to the accepted tolerable daily intake (TDI) show that exposure from this type of food is currently not of toxicological concern.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antimony / analysis*
  • Consumer Product Safety / standards
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils / standards*
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Food Packaging / standards*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates / analysis*


  • Polyethylene Terephthalates
  • Antimony