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What FDA regulations are applicable to countertop sealers/finishes?

September 25, 2007
Question 

What FDA regulations are applicable to sealers and finishes for countertops?

 

Answer 

Sealers and finishes for countertops are not specifically covered under the food additive regulations. Title 21 C.F.R. Section 175.300, found here, provides for the use of indirect food additives resinous and polymeric coatings for permanent and semi-permanent food contact surfaces, including countertops. However, sealers for countertops are not restricted to these materials, as they are considered "housewares" (except as may be used in a commercial food processing facility).

The "housewares exemption" exempts substances used in contact with food as part of a "houseware" product from premarket clearance requirement 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. Other housewares can include dishes, flatware, beverage glasses, mugs, cooking utensils, cutlery, and electrical appliances.

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.