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Enamel materials are known to contain a variety of metal silicates and metal oxides, including aluminum, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, iron, lead, lithium and nickel. According to the German BfR Opinion, grills manufactured with steel or cast iron are often coated with enamel materials to protect against corrosion and to facilitate cleaning. It is noteworthy that the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF portal) has a number of notifications relating to the migration of heavy metals from food contact enamels including cadmium, cobalt, lead, lithium, manganese and nickel, and there were 5 notifications in 2018.

On July 26, 2018, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, BfR) published Opinion No. 24/2018 (the Opinion) for the migration of heavy metals from enameled grill grates, which adopted the method from draft standard DIN EN ISO 4531:2017-04 and recommended consumer exposure levels for some heavy metals from these products. On September 2018, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published ISO 4531:2018 (largely similar to the draft standard) to replace both ISO 4531-1:1998 and ISO 4531-2:1998, including following important provisions:

  • Defining test conditions (temperature and time) for products intended for the following applications:
  1. Room temperature only
  2. Hot fills
  3. Grills and barbecues (short exposures)
  4. High temperature applications, including cooking 
  • Defining procedures for sample preparation and testing;
  • Establishing limits for the migration of 16 heavy metals

Table 1. 16 heavy metals and their migration limits in ISO 4531:2018

Element 

Limit (μg/L)

Element 

Limit (μg/L) 

Al 5000  Li 480
Ag 80 Mn 1800
As 2 Mo 120
Ba 1200 Ni 140
Cd 5 Pb 10
Co 100 Sb 40
Cr 250 V 10
Cu 4000 Zn 5000
                                                                       

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