On July 10-11, 2018, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Scientific Network of the food ingredients and food packaging (FIP) unit on food contact materials (FCMs), short the ‘FIP FCM Network,’ held its sixth meeting in Parma, Italy. The meeting minutes were agreed on July 27, 2018, and are now available online.

During the first day, the FIP FCM Network discussed the activities of the European Commission’s (EC) Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), EFSA, the EC’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), as well as the Council of Europe (CoE). Jonathan Briggs of DG SANTE reported on the EC’s evaluation of the EU legislation on FCMs (FPF reported). The timeframe of this undertaking foresees a supporting study to run from July 2018 to September 2019, a stakeholder consultation period from September 2018 to July 2019, publication and dissemination activities in September 2019, and finally a staff working document by early 2020. Regarding the recycling of plastics for FCMs, the EC will authorize about 140 recycling processes (FPF reported) with adoption and application foreseen for early 2019. The EC will focus on monitoring of incidental contamination and stressed that the bottom line is “safety first.” Katharina Volk of EFSA informed about the renewal of EFSA’s Scientific Panels, which held their inaugural plenary meetings in July 2018 (FPF reported). She also informed about EFSA’s ongoing activities regarding the reevaluation of bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) and phthalates in plastic FCMs. The opinion on phthalates is expected by the end of 2018, while the reassessment of BPA is just about to start. Human and animal hazard studies or data (published, unpublished, or newly generated) that are relevant to BPA safety evaluation can be submitted to EFSA until August 31, 2018. Eddo Hoekstra from the JRC presented a joint project with the industry association European Plastics Converters (EuPC) regarding the migration of non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) from plastic food contact articles (FCAs). Further, the JRC’s EU Reference Laboratory for Food Contact Materials (EURL-FCM) is writing monitoring guidelines for mineral oil residues in food. Also, the “Guidelines on testing conditions for articles in contact with foodstuffs (with a focus on kitchenware)” are under revision, Hoekstra informed. Eugenia Dessipri of the CoE reported that a second edition of the Council’s resolution on metals and alloys used in FCMs and FCAs is currently being prepared. Further, the Council is elaborating a resolution for all FCMs under the framework Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 that are not covered by specific harmonized regulations at EU level. The resolution aims to provide “general principles and best practices to ensure the quality and safety of these materials” and would be complemented with “material specific technical guides.”

During the second day, Stefania Barmaz and Andrea Terron, on behalf of Domenica Auteri of EFSA, presented the guidance for the identification of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the field of biocides and pesticides that was developed by EFSA, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and the JRC (FPF reported). Thereafter, a session on printing inks was held. Eugenia Dessipri of the CoE reported that the Council is currently working on “analytical issues related to the examination of compliance” of printed FCMs, with a special focus on photoinitiators. Stefan Kucsera of the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) and Stefan Merkel of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) informed about the two countries’ joint activities on printing inks (FPF reported). Recently evaluated substances include 4-methyl-2-pentanol (MIBC, CAS 108-11-2) and analytical challenges in the safety assessment were highlighted for the substances 4-methoxyphenol (MEHQ, CAS 150-76-5) and 4-nonylphenol (CAS 104-40-5). Stefan Merkel further presented the European Printing Ink Association’s (EuPIA) guidance on migration test methods and the Imaging & Printing Association’s (IP) guidance on conformity of indirect FCMs. The BfR is currently preparing “a guideline for the application of adding new substances to the German Ordinance on Printing Inks” for which the EuPIA and IP guidances provide “information on conformity work.” Birgit Mertens of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, reported on a prioritization strategy for genotoxic substances in printed paper and board FCMs that is based on non-animal methods (FPF reported). Another session was held on paper and board FCMs. Maria Rosaria Milana, Dirk van Aken, and Stefan Merkel informed about the on-going activities regarding paper and board FCMs in Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany, respectively. Thomas Schwartz of the CoE discussed the Council’s draft technical guidance on paper and board. Gilles Rivière of the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) presented the work of Eelco Nicolaas Pieke on an analytical strategy to obtain information on unknown substances in FCMs (FPF reported).

Lastly, the FIP FCM Network discussed proposals for possible follow-ups regarding scientific cooperation and activities. The next meeting of the FIP FCM Network will be planned in 2019.

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EFSA (August 2018). “Scientific Network of the food ingredients and food packaging (FIP) Unit on food contact materials (FCM), the ‘EFSA FCM Network’ – Minutes of the 6th meeting.(pdf)