On January 26, 2016 a workshop was held at the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels, Belgium on food contact materials (FCMs) (FPF reported). “How to ensure food safety and technological innovation in the future?” was the topic of the 2.5-hour event at which several stakeholders presented their views (program). Speaking on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), Chantal Bruetschy stressed the economic importance and diversity of the European FCM market, with around 100 billion € annual turnover and making up one third of the global FCM market. She highlighted the current lack of harmonized legislation covering all kinds of FCMs, but stressed that possible solutions were to accept specific Member State measures under the principle of mutual recognition, or alternatively, to adopt guidelines and work with minimal harmonization. A cooperation and dialogue with all stakeholders would be necessary for this, she said.

Further, Bruetschy explained that in the case of bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) the Commission had published a roadmap (FPF reported) and would now focus on option 3 outlined therein, namely adjusting the specific migration limit (SML) according to EFSA’s scientific opinion on BPA (FPF reported), where a temporary level for tolerable daily intake (t-TDI) had been set at 0.004 mg/kg bodyweight/day. The new SML is expected to be 0.24 mg/kg food (or lower) and would apply to plastic FCMs, but also coatings.

Other speakers included Gregor McCombie of the Official Food Control Authority of Zurich, Switzerland, who suggested introducing a fine for non-compliance with legal requirements to provide data to enforcement officers (presentation slides). Further, he stressed that the chemical identity of a substance migrating from an FCM needs to be known, and that a chemical standard (i.e. the pure chemical substance, needed for instrument calibration) was required in order to perform a chemical risk assessment, but that this was not always the case, even for substances with specific authorization. Emma Bradley from the UK Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) stated that the non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) in FCMs were a major challenge and an issue receiving much attention. In some cases, the amount of identifiable NIAS in an FCM is only around 20%, according to Bradley. She called for collaboration between enforcement labs and industry in ensuring compliance with the FCM Framework Regulation (EC 1935/2004).

Malene Teller Blume of the Danish retailer Coop Danmark criticized the lack of information from the supply chain on hazardous chemicals present in finished FCM articles. Since Coop’s suppliers are the food industry she called for improved data exchange between FCM producers and the food manufacturers. In their new chemical strategy, Coop are now focusing on phasing out 12 groups of chemicals considered of concern, by 2017.

All presentations and an event summary will be made publicly available at the EP website.

On the occasion of the EP workshop, two leading European non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – CHEM Trust and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) – released a policy briefing and a press release, respectively, addressing FCM regulation in the EU (FPF reported: CHEM Trust, HEAL).

Read more

EP Committee Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (January 13, 2016). “Workshops – Food contact materials.

Valerie Flynn (January 26, 2016). “Brussels to regulate BPA in cans.ENDS Europe