On June 14, 2021, the food packaging consultancy Smithers Pira opened the Global Food Contact conference online for the second year. Many of the talks scheduled for the multi-day event touched on compliance and harmonization from both regulators and manufacturers, especially considering the EU’s recent implementation of the single-use plastic directive, and ongoing implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, and the European Commission’s (EC) progressing update on food contact materials (FCMs).
Jonathan Briggs, legislative officer at the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) at the EC, was one of this year’s keynote speakers. In his talk, Briggs reviewed legislation controlling food contact materials within the EU and the ongoing evaluation and revisions of those regulations (FPF reported, also here and here).
The EC commits to revise the legislation, as also announced in the Farm to Fork strategy (FPF reported), to improve food safety and public health, support the use of innovative and lower impact packaging solutions, and support the re-use of food packaging. Further initiatives that impact the revision of the FCM legislation are the Circular Economy Action Plan (FPF reported) and the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (FPF reported).
In particular, Briggs highlighted seven key problems the EC has identified in the Inception Impact Assessment about food contact materials (FPF reported). These include “lack of focus on the final [food contact] article, lack of prioritization of the most hazardous substances and up-to-date assessments, [and that the] exchange of safety and compliance information in the supply chain is poor.” Possible options for FCM rules that are currently being discussed at the EC include shifting the focus onto the final material, prioritization of substances for assessments, safer and more sustainable alternatives, better supply chain information, and improved compliance work.
To allow for the size of the project, the release of the EC’s final impact assessment is being pushed back to 2023, but the EC’s staff working document on FCMs should be out by the end of 2021.
Smithers Pira (June 2021). “Global Food Contact 2021.”
EC (December 18, 2020). “Revision of EU rules on food contact materials.”