On November 29, 2019, the European Food Safety Authority’s Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes and Processing Aids (CEP) published an “update of the risk assessment” for ‘wood flour and fibres, untreated’ (FCM No 96) for use in food contact materials. The document was prepared in response to the European Commission’s (EC) request to review whether the authorization of this substance is still in accordance with the Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004.
The CEP Panel states that this “additive was included in the list of additives for use in plastic food contact materials (FCM) [(Annex I of the Regulation (EC) No 10/2011)] based on the assumption of its inertness,” but “no toxicological evaluation underlying the inclusion of this entry in the positive list is available.” A literature search performed by the CEP Panel showed that “wood may contain toxic components and contaminants.” However, “information on migration of substances from wood was found to be limited to its use in the production of wine,” and “data on migration of substances resulting from the use of wood (flour, fibres) as plastic additive were not available.” Therefore, the CEP Panel “concluded that there is insufficient information to support that the current authorization of ‘wood flour and fibres, untreated’ (FCM No 96) is still in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004.”
The mandate received from the EC also requested EFSA to “set out criteria for future evaluations of wood and similar materials from plant origin as additives for plastic for food contact applications.” In response, the Panel “noted that due to the chemical differences in composition of plant materials, the safety of migrants from these materials must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, considering beyond species also origin, processing, treatment for compatibilization with the host polymer and assessment of the low molecular weight constituents migrating into food. Migration of substances resulting from using wood or other plant materials should be tested comparatively in samples made with and without the additive. Toxicological data should cover the substances detected in this analysis.”
EFSA CEP Panel (2019). “Update of the risk assessment of ‘wood flour and fibres, untreated’ (FCM No 96) for use in food contact materials, and criteria for future applications of materials from plant origin as additives for plastic food contact materials.” EFSA Journal 17: e05902
Andrew Turley (December 9, 2019). “Data ‘insufficient’ to conclude FCMs containing wood are safe.” Chemical Watch