On September 11, 2017, scientists from the Food Packaging Forum (FPF), together with experts from its Scientific Advisory Board, published a new commentary article in the scientific peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The article gives an overview of existing regulatory requirements in the U.S. and Europe for establishing the safety of food contact materials and articles (FCMs and FCAs). Thereby, both legislative frameworks require detailed knowledge on the chemical composition of FCMs and FCAs, and chemical risk assessment is then performed for known substances that migrate into foods. However, the chemical identity of many migrating food contact chemicals (FCCs) is unknown, as they also include non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) – impurities, unintended reaction by-products, or breakdown products. As a consequence, conventional risk assessment cannot be performed for all FCCs, and conclusions about an FCA’s safety are not possible if not all FCCs are known.

What is more, for some known and authorized FCCs regulatory compliance cannot be controlled because analytical standards are unavailable. Such standards are necessary for establishing chemical analytical measurement methods and calibrating analytical equipment. However, no analytical standards are available for almost half of all substances authorized in Europe for the intentional use in plastic FCMs and FCAs.

The commentary article discusses further knowledge gaps, and also provides recommendations on how shortcomings of the current regulatory situation can be overcome.


Muncke, J. et al. (2017). “Scientific challenges in the risk assessment of food contact materials.Environmental Health Perspectives (published online September 11, 2017).