On September 22, 2020, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) announced the publication of a position paper on better protecting consumers from hazardous chemicals in food packaging, dishware, and other food contact materials (FCMs). The paper critically reviews what the organization has identified as the current fragmentations and holes in national and EU regulation on FCMs, limited transparency along the supply chain, inadequate enforcement by authorities, the use of too many different starting materials and additives, as well as failures in communication and reporting.
VZBV says this has left the consumers unsure of the safety of their foods’ packaging, and it outlines a set of critical changes needed to be addressed by: (i) enacting a clear ban on particularly harmful substances in FCMs (including carcinogens, reprotoxicants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals), (ii) implementing a strict EU registration process using positive lists for substances, (iii) educating consumers to use FCMs safely, (iv) preventing the import of dangerous products into the EU market, and (v) strengthening monitoring and enforcement. A summary of the position paper is provided in English, and the organization also commissioned a more detailed survey of the current EU regulation on FCMs to identify needed improvements.
In a further study carried out on 1,000 consumers living in Germany in October 2019, VZBV investigated their awareness of and concern for the safety of FCMs. Among other outcomes, it found that: (i) 52% of the consumers do not understand the meaning of the glass and fork symbol placed on FCMs to communicate safety for contact with food, (ii) 85% find the labeling of food packaging important, and (iii) 60% do not feel well informed about the safety and potential risks of food packaging.
VZBV (October 7, 2020). “Press Release: Greater Protection Against Harmful Chemicals for Consumers.” (pdf)
VZBV (October 7, 2020). “Schadstoffe gehören nicht in Lebensmittelverpackungen.” (in German)
VZBV (October 7, 2020). “Summary: Greater Protection Against Harmful Chemicals for Consumers.” (pdf)
VZBV (October 7, 2020). “Verbraucher besser vor schädlichen Chemikalien schützen.” (pdf) (in German)
ChemAgenda (October 7, 2020). “Survey of the current EU regulation on food contact materials and the need for improvements.” (pdf)
VZBV (October 7, 2020). “Bevölkerungsbefragung zu Lebensmittelkontaktmaterialen.” (pdf) (in German)