Fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) are added to food packaging during manufacture to improve the whiteness and brightness. It is of great significance to develop a fast and sensitive FWAs detection method because their potential hazards to human health. Herein, we found that the quaternary ammonium salt ion pair reagents could enhance the fluorescence of FWAs, and then developed a fluorescent determination method for FWA 85 in paper food packaging. Under the optimized conditions, the linear range for the determination of FWA 85 was 5-200 ng/mL (R2 = 0.9996). The limit of detection was 1.20 ng/mL (S/N = 3) and the limit of quantitation was 3.99 ng/mL. The analytical feasibility was investigated further via determination of FWA 85 in paper food packing, which shows the recoveries were varied from 83.84% to 115.29% with RSDs from 1.64% to 7.22%. The method provides a new quaternary ammonium salt ion pair reagent sensitization for the detection of FWAs in paper food packaging.