Food Contact Materials: EU Parliament Urgently Calls for Stronger Guidelines

The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament has demanded that the EU Commission develop new, EU-side guidelines for food contact materials (FCM). Such FCM include paper, cardboard, coating materials, printing inks, adhesives, plastics, rubber, and metal that are used to manufacture packaging, containers, cooking utensils, cutlery, and plates.

According to the Committee members, no uniform rules yet exist that forbid the use of carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reprotoxic materials or substances that are classified as substances of very high concern (SVHC) by REACH.

A current draft report by ENVI criticizes that Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 because it has so far covered only 4 (plastics, ceramics, regenerates cellulose, and active and intelligent packaging substances) of the 17 materials listed in the Annex. Individual EU countries have issued national regulations for individual materials in the meantime, but gaps and no EU-wide, mandatory solutions exist yet.

Along with this grievance, a current article in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology serves as the basis for the committee to appeal to the EU Commission. The authors report on more than 6,000 substances that can be found in paper and cardboard. The ECHA lists 19 of them as an SVHC. It’s also notable that about 77% of the compounds have not been evaluated for toxicity or evaluated at all. The authors state that based on the physical and chemical properties of the substances, most of them are bioavailable, meaning that they can enter food through contact with it.

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