Safety assessment of polylactide (PLA) for use as a food-contact polymer

Food Chem Toxicol. 1995 Apr;33(4):273-83. doi: 10.1016/0278-6915(94)00145-e.


This report constitutes a safety assessment of polylactide (PLA), a polymer of lactic acid intended for use in fabricating various food-contact articles. Migration studies were conducted on samples of the polymer following guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration. Potential migrants from PLA include lactic acid, lactide (the monomer), and lactoyllactic acid (the linear dimer of lactic acid). The studies were designed to model reasonable 'worst' case extraction situations when the polymer is used (a) in houseware articles for short and intermediate time periods at various temperatures and (b) in food-packaging materials. The limited migration observed during the trials represents no significant risk since migrating species are expected to convert to lactic acid, a safe food substance. It is concluded that PLA is safe and 'Generally Recognized As Safe' for its intended uses as a polymer for fabricating articles that will hold and/or package food.

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / chemistry
  • Acetic Acid
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils*
  • Diffusion
  • Ethanol / chemistry
  • Food Preservation*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydrolysis
  • Lactic Acid
  • Polyesters / chemistry
  • Polyesters / metabolism
  • Polyesters / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Acetates
  • Polyesters
  • Lactic Acid
  • Ethanol
  • poly(lactide)
  • Acetic Acid