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Do FDA’s Food Contact Regulations Apply to Food Storage Bags?

February 12, 2008
Question 

Do the FDA's food contact substance (FCS) regulations apply to a product that is sold separate of food and is not intended to be used with any particular food type or exclusively for food storage? An example is a food storage bag with a zip lock-type closure that would be marketed for food storage but may also have other applications.

Answer 

Food storage bags would fall under the "housewares exemption," which exempts substances used in contact with food as part of a "houseware" product from the requirement of premarket clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive. A houseware is generally considered to be an article that is used by a consumer (and, in some circumstances, a commercial establishment, such as a restaurant) to hold, prepare or serve food.

The housewares exemption is based on the recognition that such products generally do not give rise to any public health concern. Of course, housewares are not exempt from general safety provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (see Section 402(a)(1)). Therefore, it remains the responsibility of producers of housewares to ensure that their products are suitable for use with food and will not create a health hazard under the intended conditions of use.