Food contact materials and articles are regulated by government agencies around the world. Currently, the United States, European Union (EU), and China have the most comprehensive food contact regulations, with China only joining the list within the last few years. However, to ensure food and food contact products are safe for consumers, many countries are joining the initiative to update existing regulations, create new regulations, and ensure enforcement. Understanding these regulations and keeping up with how they change is essential for maintaining market access for food contact products. In this section, we will provide global food contact regulation developments and news relevant to food packaging industries.
Following the publishing of several major food contact National Standard, GB (Guo Biao) Standards, at the end of 2016, China National Health Commission (NHC) has released 26 new draft food contact material (FCM) standards for comment. Among the drafts released is the National Standard for Food Safety Adhesives for Food Contact Materials and Products, which applies to both direct and indirect food contact adhesives. The draft adhesive standard includes a positive list of substances and familiar general use and testing requirements. All comments do the draft adhesive standard should be submitted by July 20th, 2019. The NHC is also drafting a printing ink standard for direct and indirect food contact materials, but there is no update on when the draft will be available.
The European Union (EU) has drafted a 14th amendment to Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic food contact materials and articles which will include the authorisation of FCM Substance No 1059, Poly((R)-3-hydroxybutyrate-co-(R)-3-hydroxyhexanoate) (CAS No 147398-31-0), to Annex I of the Regulation. The addition of the new substance is based on a favourable opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and includes food contact temperature use restrictions and migration limits for low molecular weight oligomers. The EU notified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of the change in May and the commenting period will close on July 7th, 2019.
Last year, Turkey introduced two new food contact regulations that update the previous 2011 regulations to more closely align with the requirements of the EU. The first new regulation is a framework regulation that establishes the general safety requirements for food contact materials. Most provisions in the regulation became effective at the end of 2018, while the rest will become effective on December 31, 2019. The second new regulation is for active and intelligent materials and articles, but the regulation also includes criteria for adding new substances to the positive list and labelling and declaration of compliance requirements. The effective dates for this regulation range from the end of 2018 through January 1, 2020.
On January 3, 2019, The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) announced new regulations for food packaging with an effective date of July 1, 2019. The regulations will replace the previously voluntary standards. Within the new regulations, standards for Schedule I, II, and III are provided for paper and board materials, metal and metal alloys, and plastic materials, respectively. For plastic food contact materials, general and specific testing requirements are prescribed as well as a ban on the use of recycled plastics in food packaging.
In early 2018, Japan announced its intention to create a positive list for food contact materials to be in effect starting June 2020. The positive list system would replace the current negative list and testing-only regulatory requirements for food contact materials. So far, three preliminary draft positive lists have been released, which are compiled based on the current Japanese Industry Associations positive lists. The Food Safety Commission of Japan (FSCJ) released a draft of their proposed procedures for evaluation of chemicals to be added to the current draft positive lists. Comments on these procedures were accepted until February 2019 and are currently under review.
Kimberly Sheehy is a Regulatory Compliance Specialist at Intertek’s Health, Environmental, & Regulatory Services Group. To learn more about Intertek visit www.intertek.com or to learn more about Kimberly please visit her Contributor Bio Page.