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FDA Issues Draft Guidance on FCN Submissions for Substances Intended to Contact Infant Food

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued long-awaited draft guidance on December 8, 2016 regarding the preparation of Food Contact Notifications (FCNs) for food-contact substances (FCS’s) that are intended to come into contact with infant formula and/or human (breast) milk (collectively “infant food”).  FDA noted the types of FCS’s that are covered by the draft guidance include materials used in packaging infant formula and in manufacturing baby bottles, including bottle inserts and nipples.   

Although FDA has been restricting the use of FCS’s with infant food for several years now, the draft guidance formally sets out the data and other scientific information that FDA “recommends” notifiers provide to support a determination that a substance intended for use in contact with infant food is safe for the intended use in accordance with Section 409(h) of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.

FDA explains that it has reevaluated its approach to assessing the safety of substances in contact with food for infants to account for scientific advances that point to fundamental biological differences that may influence responses to chemical exposures.  The Agency also notes that infants frequently consume formula and/or human milk exclusively for the first six months of life, and consume a greater volume of food relative to their body weight than adults, leading infants to have a higher intake of food-contact migrants relative to body weight. 

The draft guidance contains detailed chemistry, toxicology, and administrative recommendations for preparing and submitting FCNs for substances intended to contact infant food.  A few notable highlights include FDA’s recommendation that 50% ethanol is an appropriate simulant for assessing potential migration of substances used in contact with dry (powdered) or liquid infant formula or human milk.  (The Agency also recognizes use of a dry food simulant, such as Tenax (Poly(2,6-diphenylphenylene oxide)), to be appropriate for powdered infant formula.)  In addition, FDA’s draft guidance recommends the use of an age-dependent risk evaluation for assessing the safety of potential exposures to carcinogenic constituents in FCS’s used in contact with infant food that takes into account the limited exposure period during infancy on the overall lifetime risk. 

Electronic or written comments on this draft guidance should reference Docket No. FDA-2016-D-1814 and may be submitted through February 7, 2017.