On 8 December 2016, Bastiaan Schupp, policy officer at the European Commission’s (EC) Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) spoke at a conference on “Plastics and paper in food contact (Smithers Pira)” in Brussels, Belgium. Mr. Schupp informed conference participants on the findings of a recently completed, but still unpublished study on the so called non-harmonized food contact materials (FCMs). This study has been carried out by the EC’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and is also known as the “baseline study.” Stating that the baseline study will likely be published before the end of 2016, Mr. Schupp explained that it will provide information on existing FCM legislation in different Member States (MS), a list of substances for use in different FCMs, as well as a market overview for all FCMs. All information, including English translations of MS regulations, will be provided in a publicly accessible online tool. The study had been triggered due to concerns that the absence of EU-wide, harmonized regulation for most FCMs would lead to an insufficient protection of public health (FPF reported).

Additional information was provided concerning DG SANTE’s FCM-working plan for 2017. The 7th amendment to the Plastics Regulation ((EU) No 10/2011) is expected to be published in the first quarter of 2017. Further, an external contractor will perform an ex-post evaluation of the EU’s FCM framework regulation ((EC) No 1935/2004). The aim of this effort is to identify whether EU procedures are adequate, and to prepare possible further harmonization of FCM regulation. In this aspect, DG SANTE shared concrete plans to focus on harmonized legislation for printed FCMs, and to have a measure in place by 2018, based on existing industry guidance and the German draft ordinance for printing inks (FPF reported). Mr Schupp stated that the EC will seek input from selected industry stakeholders and MS when preparing the new legislation.

Another topic for DG SANTE’s work in 2017 will be a “consultation on information in the supply chain.” DG SANTE will be performing a survey of business operators and MS. The EC is interested in understanding how business operators are fulfilling their legal obligations ((EU) No 10/2011, Art. 15, 16) to provide declarations of compliance (DOCs) and supporting documents to other supply chain participants and to the enforcement authorities. Availability of compliance information is crucial for ensuring the safety of plastic FCMs, and therefore a functioning of this system for exchanging information is essential for protecting public health.

Further, a recommendation on mineral oils is another activity the EC plans for 2017, Mr Schupp said, without providing details.

Read more

Smithers Pira (2016). “About plastics & paper in contact with foodstuffs.

Tammy Lovell (December 22, 2016). “DG Sante promises action on food contact materials.Chemical Watch