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Germany Notifies Updated Version of its Draft Mineral Oil Ordinance to the EC

September 21, 2020

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture has notified the latest draft of its Mineral Oil Ordinance to the European Commission (EC). The updated version requires the use of a functional barrier in paper, paperboard or cardboard food contact materials containing recycled paper to prevent the transfer of mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) to food. A transfer is deemed not to take place if it can be demonstrated that the following are not exceeded:

  • a detection limit of 0.5 mg for the sum of MOAH/kg food

OR

  • a detection limit of 0.15 mg for the sum of MOAH/kg food simulant.

The above limits for MOAH do not apply if there are special requirements for the food contact material (e.g., there is only a low level of MOAH in the food contact article such that MOAH could not be transferred to food at a level above the detection limit) or if the manufacturer or distributor of the food contact material has taken other suitable measures to prevent a transfer. 

The food business operator, who brings the food contact material into contact with food for the first time by packaging or any other way, may assume the responsibility for ensuring that there is no transfer of MOAH to the food by means of a functional barrier or by taking other suitable measures or if he can establish in some other way that MOAH would not migrate to the food above the detection limit.  However, the food business operator must declare in writing or electronically to the manufacturer or distributor that he will dispense with the functional barrier before the delivery of the food contact materials.  In this situation, the manufacturer of the paper/paperboard/cardboard food contact material containing recycled paper would not need to ensure that it is separated from the food by a functional barrier (as the responsibility for compliance has been passed on to the downstream user).

The draft Ordinance also contains requirements regarding supporting documentation that must be kept on file by the manufacturer or distributor of the food contact material as well as the food business operator to demonstrate that they comply with their obligations pursuant to the draft Ordinance.  This documentation must be made available to the enforcement authorities upon request.

The end of the standstill period during which the EC and Member States may comment on the draft is November 18, 2020 (although this can be extended by 3 months if the EC or Member States object to the draft). The notification of the draft Mineral Oil Ordinance was received by the EC on August 17, 2020.