Food packaging, factory equipment, food utensils – almost everything we eat has been in contact with one or more of these items, which are classified in EU law as ‘Food Contact Materials’ (FCMs).
Chemicals used in these materials are regulated at EU level by a “Framework Regulation” which requires that FCMs “do not transfer their constituents to food in quantities which could endanger human health”.
However, beyond this general safety requirement, some materials like plastics are regulated more precisely by EU rules, others – such as paper and card, inks, coatings and adhesives – are not covered by a specific EU regulation.
In CHEM Trust’s view, the lack of EU harmonised rules on many food contact materials and other holes in the system – including the continued use of substances of very high concern in food packaging – means that public health is not properly protected. This lack of harmonisation can also lead to disruption of the internal market.
CHEM Trust’s contributions on this issue have included:
- A briefing, “Chemicals in food contact materials: A gap in the internal market, a failure in public protection”, which outlines key problems and recommendations – first published in January 2016.
- Many presentations, including “Chemicals in food contact materials (FCM) – it’s a mess” presentation at the Food Packaging Forum webinar on substances of very high concern in FCM in March 2017, and a talk on “Addressing chemicals of concern in food contact materials – including those made from recycled materials” at the Food Packaging Forum Conference in 2016.
- CHEM Trust organised a workshop in Brussels to examine one important aspect – the overlap and gaps between the main EU chemicals regulation REACH and the food contact materials laws. Details and notes can be found in this blog.
- Comments to the European Commission’s consultations on Bisphenol A in food contact materials, and to the European Food Safety Authority on risk assessment of chemicals in food contact materials, both in 2015.
- Many blogs, for example on the EU Commission’s recent plans to evaluate FCMs’ laws and to develop a regulation of printed food contact materials.
You can read all our blogs on chemicals in food packaging and other food contact materials here.
More information on chemicals in food contact materials is available from the Food Packaging Forum.