Industry backs EFSA review of non-plastic food contact materials

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food contact materials, European union, European food safety authority

Leading industry bodies have endorsed a proposal by European safety chiefs to evaluate the safety of non-plastic food contact materials such as inks, coatings and adhesives.

Organisations such as adhesive and sealant association FEICA, can coating body CEPE and EuPIA, the printing inks group, have all come out in support of a measure by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to develop and introduce specific non-plastic food contact regulations.

FEICA, the Association of European Adhesives and Sealant Manufacturers, told its thinking was in tune with EFSA and the European Commission. Since 2007 it had been working on an EU-sponsored project called Migresives, which aims to lay down a specific science-based approach on adhesives to meet current general EU regulation, secretary general Bernard Ghyoot said.

The body is due to deliver the findings of the research at a conference in Slovenia at the end of April and believes they could serve as the foundation for future EU legislation on food packaging adhesives.

“The key finding of the project is to scientifically validate the use of a mathematic modelling software to calculate the migration of substances contain in the food packaging adhesives through packaging components,”​ said Ghyoot. “Such findings are critical to improve the accuracy and speed of the risk assessment analysis process.”

Code of practice

Can coating association CEPE said it also “strongly supports” ​EFSA in its aims on safety in food packaging.

“The CEPE Can Sector group is working closely with the can industry - represented by EMPAC, CEPE, CIAA and Plastics Europe - in regular technical working groups to ensure the safe use of coatings in metal packaging”,​ said technical director Dr Jacques Warnon.

The group added that while no specific EU regulations existed, a code of practice for coated articles where the food contact layer is a coating, launched in 2006, had been an important step forward.

Warnon said: “This is an important agreement that gives an equivalent set of provisions to plastics and ensures that coatings can be demonstrated to comply with the Frame Work Regulation (1935/2004/EC). The CEPE expects to be involved in the EFSA review.”

Supply chain complexity

The European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA) was similarly positive about the EFSA initiative and highlighted that in the absence of specific rules it had already introduced and distributed industry guidelines.

The body said it was currently liaising with the EU on inks in food contact materials and was involved in a number of initiatives. Support for compiling of a list of permitted substances to be used in food packaging inks as part of the Swiss Ordinance on Materials and Articles, and the FACET project were two of these. The results of the latter are expected to form the basis for future regulation in the field of food contact materials, said executive manager Dr Martin Kanert.

He added the main issue in ensuring safe use of inks lay in the complexity of the supply chain for food and its packaging. Managing risk and exchanging information among players throughout the chain – including food manufacturers, packaging suppliers and ink producers - was vital, and something to which the body was committed, said Kanert.

EFSA said its scientific cooperation (ESCO) working group, made up of member state representatives, held its initial meeting last week and would report its findings by March 2011.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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