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Switzerland Notifies EC Concerning Draft Ordinance on Foodstuffs and Commodities

October 20, 2015

Switzerland notified to the European Commission (EC) a draft Ordinance on foodstuffs and commodities (notification 2015/9505/CH) on October 5, 2015, and a draft Ordinance on materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs (notification 2015/9507/CH) on October 12, 2015.

The Draft Ordinance on foodstuffs and commodities

The draft ordinance is intended to replace one of the overarching pieces of legislation applicable to foodstuffs and commodities (including food-contact materials) in Switzerland (RS 817.02 on foodstuffs and commodities dated November 23, 2005, as amended).

The draft Ordinance on foodstuffs and commodities sets out general provisions on materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs. These include:

  • A provision similar to Article 3 of the European Union's Framework Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004. (The current Swiss legislation, RS 817.02, contains an identical provision.)
  • A proposal to require conformity with good manufacturing practice (GMP) in the manufacture of food-contact materials and articles. (This is addressed in further detail in the draft Ordinance on materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs; GMP is not specifically addressed in the food-contact materials section of the current text, RS 817.02.)
  • Provisions on plastic recycling processes that propose to recognize the authorization of recycling processes for plastic materials and articles granted by the EC pursuant to the Recycled Plastics Regulation (EC) No 282/2008. (This is also new and is also addressed in further detail in the draft Ordinance on materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs.)

The draft Ordinance on materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs

The draft ordinance is intended to replace the current legislation specifically regulating food contact materials (RS 817.023.21 on materials and articles dated November 23, 2005, as amended). Points covered by the draft include:

  • Alignment of the provisions on plastic materials and articles with the EU's Plastics Regulation (EU) No. 10/2011, as amended;
  • Requirement for a Declaration of Compliance (DoC) and supporting documentation for plastic materials and articles (including recycled materials and articles), as well as to accept plastic recycling processes authorized in the EU;
  • Expansion of the scope of the provisions on silicones;
  • Provisions on the use of recycled paper behind a functional barrier, which include retaining the clause outlining that recycled paper may be used in direct contact with eggs and certain fruit; and
  • Provisions on GMP, such as the deployment of quality assurance and quality control systems. In particular, the draft specifies that all aspects of GMP must be appropriately documented (i.e., specifications, manufacturing formulae, and processing, which are relevant to the compliance and safety of the finished materials or articles) and that relevant documentation should be made available to the competent enforcement authorities.

With respect to printing inks, although the positive list was not included in the notified draft (as it is published separately on the website of the Swiss authorities, rather than in the Ordinance), we understand that the Swiss authorities propose to update the list of substances allowed for the manufacture of printing inks to, inter alia, remove substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (CMRs) from the Part B (unevaluated substances) lists, and to move certain substances from the Part B lists to the Part A (evaluated substances) lists.

Currently, the drafts of the Ordinance on foodstuffs and commodities and the Ordinance on materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs are only available in German and French respectively, and can be accessed at the internet links below. However, an English translation is expected to be completed in two to five weeks.

The initial standstill period during which the EC and EU Member States may comment on the draft texts is scheduled to expire three months after the notifications (i.e., on January 6, 2016, for the draft Ordinance on foodstuffs and commodities, and on January 13, 2016, for the draft Ordinance on materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs). However, the standstill periods may be extended by an additional three months if the EC or Member States submit a detailed opinion (i.e., object to) on the draft texts. The Swiss authorities may not take any steps to adopt the draft texts during the standstill periods.

Link to draft Ordinance on foodstuffs and commodities: notification 2015/9505/CH

Link to draft Ordinance on materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs: notification 2015/9507/CH