In a commentary article published by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch on March 12, 2020, director of the non-governmental organization CHEM Trust, Michael Warhurst, discusses the outdated EU laws regulating food contact materials (FCMs) and the currently ongoing review process by the European Commission that might improve them. Warhurst stresses that since the creation of the EU framework regulation on FCMs in 2004 “there are still no EU-harmonized lists for many FCMs, only an assortment of national rules and an overarching requirement that food contact materials ‘do not transfer their constituents to food in quantities which could endanger human health.’” Since the EU’s REACH legislation came into force in 2007, the FCM framework regulation has not been updated and therefore does not take into consideration the numerous evaluations of a wide range of chemicals performed within REACH.

“The lack of adequate regulation of chemicals in FCMs creates a range of problems,” Warhust says,  “including a perverse situation whereas pressure builds against plastic packaging (which does have an EU positive list), companies are moving to paper, card and other materials (which don’t have an EU positive list).” The same applies to the recycling of plastic FCMs, where the EU has some laws in place, but nothing yet set-up to address the recycling of paper or paperboard. The lack of harmonized rules across these other materials has also led to an increase of national regulations that further complicate compliance for manufacturers.

Warhurst suggests that the FCM regulatory community consider taking a closer look at using an approach similar to the EU’s drinking water directive, which is currently developing a positive list of chemicals for drinking water contact applications. He also reminded readers of five key principles CHEM Trust developed for new EU laws on FCMs (FPF reported) and the recent consensus statement published by international scientists, which urges decision-makers to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals in FCMs (FPF reported).

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Michael Warhurst (March 12, 2020). “NGO Platform: Is the EU finally set to update its outdated laws on chemicals in FCMs?

Michael Warhurst (April 14, 2020). “Is the EU finally set to update its outdated laws on chemicals in FCMs?CHEM Trust