Evaluation of Current Framework for Food Contact Legislation
The Commission’s review of the current legislative framework for Food Contact Materials (FCM) has reached the stage where they are finalising the terms of reference for a study to support the evaluation. This study will include consultation of stakeholders by means of interviews, surveys, focus group meetings, case studies and a 12 week public consultation. After analysis, the results and conclusions will feed into a Staff Working Document. We are not aware of a timetable for this work but it seems unlikely that the consultation will take place before the autumn. Hence the Staff Working Document would not be published until 2019.
Printed Food Contact Materials
At the start of the year, we were looking forward to the Commission proposing legislation for printed FCM. In preparation for this, FPE participated in the Packaging Inks Joint Industry Task Force which brings together all the players in the printed FCM supply chain. A position paper has been drafted to form the basis of future discussions with the Commission. However, it now seems that progress on this subject must await the completion of the framework review. If work re-starts in 2019, a new measure will not be ready before 2020.
The immediate question is how will Germany react to such a delay. Will they resume work on a national measure for printing inks? Industry’s opposition to such a measure remains focussed on the adverse effects on the single market and on the restraint of trade.
Regulations on Bisphenol A and Plastics
Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/213 on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in varnishes and coatings intended to come into contact with food was published in February. It applies to varnishes and coatings applied to all food contact materials and sets a Specific Migration Limit (SML) of 0.05 mg/kg. However, no migration of BPA is permitted from coatings applied to materials intended for contact with infant formula, baby food and products specifically intended for young children. The measure will apply from September this year.
Regulation 2018/213 also amends the Plastics Regulation 10/2011 so as to reduce the SML for BPA in plastics to the same level of 0.05 mg/kg. This was the 10th amendment to 10/2011; the 9th amendment, Regulation 2018/79, was published in January. It is limited to changes in Annex I with the entry for one substance being amended and three new substances added. A further amendment, also limited to changes in Annex I, is expected to be published soon.
Mineral Oil Monitoring
Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/84 on the monitoring of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) in food and in materials and articles intended to come into contact with food was published in January last year. It includes the requirement that the European Union Reference Laboratory for Food Contact Materials (EU-RL) should develop guidance on how the monitoring should be done. At a recent meeting for stakeholders, the Laboratory gave a progress report.
The presentation made it clear that the guidelines were primarily for the monitoring of MOH in food. MOH in packaging materials need only be determined if the packaging is suspected as being the source. The guidance will cover sampling, reporting and analytical methods.