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Australia Publishes Guide on Categorizing Chemicals for Food-Contact Articles

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The Australian Department of Health (DOH) has published a guidance for importers and manufacturers of chemicals that will be used in food-contact articles. The guidance is intended to facilitate compliance with a new requirement under the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) to categorize such food-contact chemicals as “exempted,” “reported,” or “assessed”. (A six-step guide to categorizing chemicals under AICIS can be found on the DOH website.)   

The guidance refers to the introduction to Australia of industrial chemicals for use in food-contact articles as a “specified class of introduction” due, in part, to the potential for migration of these chemicals to food. Examples of food-contact articles provided in the guidance include food wrapping, food containers, coatings on the inside of food cans, and coatings on the inside of water storage tanks. Chemicals that are used on the non-food contact side of glass or metal articles, or ones used in cardboard that does not directly contact food are exempted from the AICIS requirement.

The guidance discusses the record keeping requirements for exempted or reported chemicals introduced for use in food-contact materials. These include the need to substantiate that the chemicals do not have human health hazard characteristics. For example, the guidance notes that the use in food-contact applications of chemicals permitted for use as food additives under Schedule 15 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, Standard 1.3.1, would not have higher human health exposures than what is expected from their use in food. (For more information on the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, see the article, Food Packaging Regulations in Australia and New Zealand.)