The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) held its 2014 European Symposium on Food Safety in Budapest, Hungary. From 7-9 May 2014, food safety experts from around the world gathered to discuss pertinent issues and recent scientific development in the area of food safety. For the first time food contact materials (FCMs) featured prominently, with two sessions dedicated to their chemical safety, regulatory enforcement and organoleptic properties. In the first session organized by Thomas Kennedy of the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Jan Petersen from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration discussed his experience with FCM enforcement and highlighted the general lack of basic knowledge concerning compliance requirements in both FCM manufacturing and food producing companies. In a very descriptive presentation, Thomas Simat from the Technical University Dresden, Germany, explained why organoleptic properties of FCMs can affect food quality and how they can be tested. Insights from a recent European enforcement campaign on glass jar closures were shared by Gregor McCombie from the Official Food Safety Control Canton of Zurich, Switzerland, who showed that FCMs are a significant source of chemical food contamination and that around one quarter of analysed samples was non-compliant. In the second FCM session, which was organized by the Food Packaging Forum Foundation, three different perspectives on chemical risks from FCMs were discussed. Firstly, John Peterson Myers from Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. explained why endocrine disrupting chemicals were of concern even at low doses, and asserted that development of future alternative food contact substances should follow principles of Green Chemistry. Secondly, Benoît Schilter from the Nestlé Research Center showed that FCM migration is clearly viewed as a food safety issue by his company and that internal measures exist for ensuring its safety beyond compliance requirements; according to B. Schilter the future use of in silico tools is promising for identifying potential EDCs present in FCMs. Finally, Konrad Grob from the Official Food Safety Control Canton of Zurich, Switzerland discussed FCM compliance from an enforcement officer’s perspective and made concrete suggestions how the supply chain could deal with the many existing knowledge gaps.
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