On March 20, 2020, the comment period for the EU’s sustainable food strategy closed with over 650 comments submitted (FPF reported). As reported in an article published by news provider Chemical Watch, the comments include calls from civil society stakeholders specifically for the improved and mandatory sharing of information along the food packaging supply chain to ensure the traceability and safety of the chemicals present. Non-governmental organization (NGO) Client Earth commented that “tracking is currently made solely on a voluntary basis by very few sectors, in a non-harmonized, [and] hence not [a] most effective way.” It calls for packaging suppliers to be “responsible for sharing data with sufficient information to allow safe use of the chemicals contained in the product, during the whole lifecycle,” and it further said that new EU legislation is needed that set criteria to determine substances of very high concern (SVHCs) and chemicals without definable safety thresholds, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals. NGO CHEM Trust echoed similar concerns, requesting that the strategy “commit the Commission to addressing the problems related to hazardous chemicals in FCMs. This should include a timeline for the development of new, more protective and effective, legislation.”

Industry stakeholders also submitted comments calling for clear regulatory frameworks that support innovation. Plastics Europe wrote that it is asking “for the creation of a regulatory framework that will keep fostering innovative, increasingly safe and more sustainable solutions.” European chemical industry association Cefic is reported to have supported the aim to achieve a more sustainable food system, with its Food Contact Additives (FCA) sector group emphasizing that additives are essential to achieving desired packaging and that food contact materials (FCMs) help protect food from spoilage, “thus contributing to the objectives of the circular economy of the food system.” The group would like to see more harmonization of EU rules related to FCMs.

Known as the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, the EU aims for it to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable food system and is a part of the European Green Deal (FPF reported). Following the closing of the comment period, the European Commission (EC) was set to adopt the strategy in the first quarter of 2020. However, a recent schedule document shows that the adoption has been delayed until at least April 29, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the potential for further delay.

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Luke Buxton (March 24, 2020). “NGOs urge tougher FCM controls in EU Farm to Fork strategy.” Chemical Watch

EC (February 17, 2020). “Sustainable food – ‘farm to fork’ strategy.”

Health and Environmental Alliance (April 15, 2020). “CSOs open letter on the importance and urgency of publishing the Farm to Fork strategy by end April 2020.”