Mineral oil migration key concern at ECMA/ProCarton Conference

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Andreas Blaschke and Roland Rex
Andreas Blaschke and Roland Rex

Related tags: European union

Mineral oil migration, the EU Commission Circular Economy and its Packaging and Packaging Waste directive were key concerns at The ECMA (European Carton Makers Association) and ProCarton Conference in Sorrento, Italy, this week.

For the first time this year, the two organisations launched a joint congress with its highest number of attendees with 300 people and an SMS service for the audience to get involved in a live debate with speakers to promote an interactive discussion. 

German Ordinance third draft

Roland Rex, was re-elected as president for another three years this week and has been in the role for four years. 

He told FoodProductionDaily the German Ministry for Nutrition, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) is on its third draft of its Ordinance on Mineral Oils with a consultation expected later this year. 

The BMELV hopes mineral oils and printing inks will be regulated at the European level but action by the European Commission is currently not expected. 

We have no ordinance as yet. The approach BMELV is taking is good but the proposal does not protect the consumer because they are focusing only on a specific type of source which is recycled-fibre and that is only one possible source for migration​,” he said. 

It is not even proven the majority of mineral oil that is found in food stuff actually comes from recovered fibre, it comes very often from the food itself in their own processes​. 

Certain oils are allowed in food and can be used as additives but they are then wrongly identified in the analytics. The approach of the German legislator is not applicable​.” 

There are two types of mineral oils according to the EU Commission; ‘direct migration’, which is mineral oils that have migrated from the packages into the food 

and ‘indirect migration’, where mineral oils allegedly migrate from recycled fibre based transport packages, through the food package, and into the food. 

Consumer protection

The main source of harmful mineral oils in recycled fibre is reportedly the inks used for printing newspapers. 

We want consumer protection of course, but we want a public ordinate that is covering the whole sector not a specific portion​,” added Rex. 

The affect of that is it creates uncertainty with the brand owners. The brand owners then start to think what packaging material can I the use and they may move away to plastics because they cannot trust recycled and virgin fibre. That’s the big fear. It is a risk for the whole fibre based packaging industry​. 

The EU Commission has realized there is a need to regulate mineral oils but it has no capacity at the moment or scientific proof. The German regulator has the task to protect the consumer and wants to do something on a national level, which will be recognized as a European standard​.” 

Rex opened the first day of the event with Andreas Blaschke, president, ECMA and Tanya Beckett, journalist, BBC World News and the congress moderator. 

Challenges ahead

Blaschke said there were a number of challenges ahead for the industry, including the EU Commission Circular Economy and its Packaging and Packaging Waste directive and online retail and QR codes will change the face of the industry. 

He said the two organisations put the programme schedule together to reflect this environment and ECMA was now working on the French and Spanish market to get them onboard and is organizing the Fédération Française du Cartonnage in June 2015. 

We need new blood in the organisation and we set up the Young Leaders Forum this year,​” said Blaschke. 

Rex added both organisations have long congress histories; ECMA has always been focused on more internal issues whereas ProCarton is more outward looking. 

Times are changing and looking on one side only is not sufficient any longer, we have to achieve a 360 degree view of our customers needs and drivers of our markets. We have to understand the future​,” he said. 

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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