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Switzerland Publishes Updated Ordinance on Materials and Articles Intended to Contact Foodstuffs

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On December 1, the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) published a new version of the Ordinance on Materials and Articles (817.023.21), which establishes certain requirements for food contact materials. The Ordinance is accompanied by several Annexes, consisting of “positive lists” of permitted substances for different uses, including plastics, cellulose films, ceramics and glass, silicone, and printing inks. Switzerland last updated the Ordinance in 2017 to align more closely with principles contained in European Union (EU) food contact regulations, and the most recent updates represent a continuation of that effort.

Specifically, the Ordinance now contains a section (and accompanying Annexes 13 and 14) requiring a Declaration of Compliance for varnishes and coatings, including new language relating to EU regulations on Bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic varnishes and coatings in contact with food. Entities have until May 31, 2020 to comply with the new provisions covering BPA. Moreover, the Ordinance contains additional epoxy derivatives from European Commission Regulation (EC) No 1895/2005 on its positive list, including 2,2-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)propane bis(2,3-epoxypropyl) ether (BADGE) and novolac glycidyl ethers (NOGE).

The Ordinance’s provisions on recycled paper are also amended, including removal of the restriction that recycled paper may only be used in contact with certain named foodstuffs. The updated language now aligns more closely with Article 3 of the EU’s Framework Regulation to allow use of recycled paper, provided that any migration of components from recycled paper to foodstuffs 1) does not pose a danger to human health, (2) is technically unavoidable, and (3) does not cause unacceptable changes to the composition of food in keeping with Article 49 of Swiss Ordinance 817.02 on Foodstuffs and Commodities.

Finally, the Ordinance contains several additions, deletions, and modifications to its provisions covering printing inks, an area that is not currently harmonized at the EU level. A full logbook of these changes and more information about the updated Ordinance can be found at the FSVO Website. Aside from the provisions covering BPA, food contact materials must comply with all new changes to Ordinance 817.023.21 by November 30, 2020.