On June 24, 2015 the European Commission’s (EC) Directorate General Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) published news about an on-going “baseline study” of food contact materials (FCMs) at the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC). The study’s aim is to provide background information for DG SANTE to assess whether current European FCM regulations are efficient and effective, “including the benefits as well as the administrative burdens and costs of the existing situation on businesses”. Specifically, the JRC experts are gathering information on the current industry supply chain for FCMs and organizing information on the current national legislation (or other measures) for FCMs. The study was launched in late 2014 and is scheduled for completion by early 2016.

In Europe, FCM regulation is guided by the framework legislation for FCMs (Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004) which requires FCMs to not transfer chemicals to foodstuffs at levels harmful to human health (Art.3). Furthermore, rules for good manufacturing exist (Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006), as well as specific legislation for different material types (plastics, recycled plastics, ceramics, regenerated cellulose and active and intelligent materials). For other material types used in contact with food the framework legislation applies, and in addition specific national legislation may exist. According to DG SANTE, some industry stakeholders have pointed out that this leads to “inconsistencies in the approach to regulating FCMs and can hinder the free movement of” goods within the EU.

Furthermore, the study will answer questions by the non-profit group CHEM Trust about chemicals used and authorized for use in the manufacture of FCMs in the EU (FPF reported), following an analysis by the Food Packaging Forum (FPF). In July 2014, FPF scientists published results showing that several chemicals listed under the EU chemicals regulation (REACH) as substances of very high concern (SVHCs), including chemicals intended for phase-out (Annex XIV), were authorized and legally used in FCMs in the EU (FPF reported).

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EC – DG Health and Food Safety (2015). “Assessment of the current situation concerning food contact materials for which there are no specific harmonised measures at EU level.”