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EU’s Principle of Mutual Recognition not Always Understood or Applied Correctly to Food-Contact Materials, Report Finds

A recently released report on the European Union's (EU) Single Market Policy identified the food sector as one of five sectors where problems with the correct application of mutual recognition exist. The report, Evaluation of the Application of the mutual recognition principle in the field of goods, is based on an evaluation, carried between June 2014 and May 2015, to identify shortcomings with the principle of mutual recognition.

The report provides specific examples of problems with the application of mutual recognition to the manufacture and marketing of food-contact materials. One example involves a Swedish company that produces paper products for food packaging. The company has been required by its Italian customer to do additional testing of its products to comply with Italy's national legislation concerning paper in contact with food, even though the company's products already comply with regulations in Sweden and other Member States. The report also discusses the French ban on bisphenol A (BPA).

One of the conclusions of the report was that many businesses are not aware of the principle of mutual recognition and "believe that they have to comply with national regulations in the Member State of destination when trading in the Single Market."

A European Commission (EC) Communication, COM(2015) 550 final, dated October 28, 2015 on "Upgrading the Single Market" outlines that the release of an EU-wide Action Plan to increase awareness of the mutual recognition is scheduled for 2016, and the revision of the Mutual Recognition Regulation, Regulation (EC) No 764/2008, is scheduled for 2017. This regulation defines the rights and obligations of national authorities and enterprises from the point at which the national authority plans to take a decision to:

  • prohibit the placing on the market of a product or a type of product,
  • modify or additionally test a product or a type of product before it can be placed or kept on the market, or
  • withdraw a product or a type of product from the market.