European Parliament Adopts Resolution on the Implementation of Food-Contact Materials Regulation
The European Parliament (EP) adopted on October 6, 2016, a Resolution on the Implementation of the Food Contact Materials Regulation ((EC) No 1935/2004 or the Framework Regulation). Of particular significance, is that the Resolution puts pressure on the European Commission (EC) to develop specific measures for the 13 categories of food-contact materials (FCMs) that are not yet harmonized at the EU level and that are, therefore, subject to the laws of the Member States, and the mutual recognition principle. Below is summary of the main points in the resolution.
- Implementation of EU legislation on FCMs successes and gaps: The Resolution states that while the major focus should be on the adoption of specific measures for the non-harmonized materials, shortcomings in the implementation and enforcement of the legislation already in place should also be addressed. With respect to the non-harmonized materials, the EP recommends that the development of specific EU measures for paper and board (including recycled products), varnishes and coatings, metals and alloys, printing inks and adhesives should receive priority. The EP further recommends conducting more research aimed on how to prevent the migration of mineral oils into food from FCMs and articles made of paper and board.
- Risk assessment: In addition to increased funding for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EP recommends that EFSA considers the so-called ‘cocktail effect’ or multiple exposures in the risk assessment procedure. Recommendations also include clarifying the role of EFSA and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) with respect to the food contact and biocidal products legislation, and to ensure better coordination between the food contact legislation and REACH. The Resolution also suggests placing a greater focus on non-intentionally added substances (NIAS), and suggests that the EC review the evidence for: the current assumptions for the migration of substances through functional barriers; the 10 ppb threshold concentration for migrating substances that is being used by some business operators for the risk assessment; the effectiveness of functional barriers over time; and the current assumptions on how molecular size affects chemical absorption through the intestine.
- Traceability: The Resolution recommends that all FCMs, whether harmonized or non-harmonized, be accompanied by a Declaration of Compliance (DoC) and the appropriate documentation. It also emphasizes the need for imported products to comply with EU requirements.
- Enforcement and controls: The Resolution acknowledges the importance of developing EU guidelines for FCMs that would facilitate more uniform implementation and better enforcement in Member States, and recommends that a single EU standard be developed for analytical testing. It also calls on EC to study the possibility of implementing safety checks for pre-manufactured food-contact articles.
Paper Industry Praises EP Resolution
The European paper and board industry praised the recommendations in the EP’s Resolution on the Implementation of the FCMs Regulation, especially the call to prioritize the development of EU-level regulation of paper and board materials. In an October 6, 2016 press release on the Resolution, the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), the International Confederation of Paper and Board Converters in Europe (CITPA), and the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO), stated, “In the absence of common EU rules diverging national measures are now seriously hampering the internal market.”
Although the EP’s Resolution is not legally binding, the EC must provide the EP, within three months after the adoption of a parliamentary resolution, with information in writing on action taken in response to specific requests addressed to it in the EP’s Resolution. Under certain conditions the three months period can be extended by one month. The EP is responsible for further distribution of the EC’s response within the EU institutions.