Paper industry issues voluntary guidelines on food contact materials

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food contact materials, European union

Leading industry bodies from the paper and board sectors have published voluntary guidelines for their members to help ensure compliance with general EU legislation on food contact materials.

The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) and the International Confederation of Paper and Board Converters in Europe (CITPA) issued the guide on how to meet obligations laid out in EC Framework regulation 1935/2004. This ruling covers all materials and articles which come in contact with food.

“The Guideline offers, in the absence of a specific measure, the alternative of self-regulation,”​ said Jori Ringman, CEPI recycling and product director. “There is now a period of opportunity during which the paper-based packaging chain can show that its own guidelines can deliver.”

Earlier this year, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) set up an expert panel to evaluate the safety of non-plastic food contact materials such as paper and cardboard, as well as inks and adhesives. The safety watchdog said it had convened the scientific cooperation (ESCO) working group in response to a number of episodes in the last few years involving the migration of non-plastic contact materials into food - particularly chemicals in printing inks such as ITX, 4-methylbenzophenone and benzophenone. EFSA said that at present there are no specific regulations for non-plastic food contact substances.

New guidelines

CEPI/CITPA said the new guidelines give producers, institutions and public authorities a road map on how to ensure paper and board meet the quality standards for food contact materials.

“This means it will not endanger human health by causing an unacceptable change in the food’s composition or deterioration in the way the food tastes, looks, feels and smells,”​ said a CEPI statement sent to FoodProductionDaily.com.

While many materials, such as cellulose film and plastics, are subject to material-specific measures applied throughout the EU, the situation regarding paper is more fragmented. Countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy have national legislation, with other countries opting for compliance with the general non-specific regulation 1935/2004.

“The unintended impression given to buyers is that compliance for paper and board is less clear than for other materials,”​ said the bodies.

CEPI said it also planned to publish an accompanying Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guide for the sector – a requirement under EU Regulation 2023/2006.

“Put simply, the Guideline spells out the rules, and the GMP describes a management system for those rules to be obeyed”,​ said the group.

Peer review

The document has been peer reviewed by packaging experts Pira, which declared the guidelines to be “an extremely useful contribution” ​towards the harmonisation of legislation on the matter.

“We have concluded that the industry guideline provides a useful structure to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Framework Regulation and the GMP Regulation,”​ said Pira’s Dr Alistair Irvine.

He added that the CEPI/CITPA document “has more strengths and fewer weaknesses”​ than pervious regulations from national governments or the Council of Europe Resolution.

To download the CEPI/CIPTA guidelines click HERE

or follow this link www.cepi.org/publications

To read the peer review by PIRA click HERE

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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