On May 13, 2020, the European Commission (EC) announced that its Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published a thematic report on science for food. Released just ahead of the EU’s pending Farm to Fork Strategy (FPF reported), the report “provides a broad overview of JRC’s work and highlights the scientific tools, methods, analyses and activities that work towards authentic, safe and nutritious products and helping to attain food security while respecting the environment.”

In a section dedicated to food contact materials (FCMs), the report outlines JRC’s activities that have provided scientific support to the framework Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 on the safety of materials and articles, Commission Regulation (EU) No/2011 on plastic materials and articles, and Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on controls to verify compliance with food law. The JRC report highlights its previous work to:

  • develop methods to measure the migration from printing inks used in FCMs, which contributed to revision of Regulation 10/2011
  • investigate infant exposure to plasticizers used in jars for baby foods, which resulted in stricter regulations on lids and organizing comparative tests for enforcement laboratories
  • monitor and develop methods to test the migration of specific substances from kitchenware articles such as formaldehyde from melamine bowls and primary aromatic amines from polyamide kitchen spatulas
  • develop guidelines used to sample and test imported food contact articles into the EU
  • host the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) for food contact materials, which provides databases on substances and methods for measuring regulated food contact chemicals
  • develop the Flavours, Additives, and food Contact materials Exposure Task (exposure assessment database)

In describing its ongoing work, the JRC writes about the need to develop additional suitable methods for measuring the more than 930 substances authorized in plastics alone. Given that there is no EU-specific legislation on many of the other material types (e.g., printing inks, metals, paper and board) that can make use of more than 10,000 different chemicals, the JRC is anticipating the policymaking needs to regulate these materials, which can include generation of data on exposure and identification of related health risks.

Read more

EC (May 13, 2020). “New thematic report: Science for food.”


EC (May 13, 2020). “Science for Food: JRC thematic report.” (pdf)