Food Law News - EU - 2004

FSA Consultation Letter, 27 January 2004

PACKAGING - EU proposal on food contact materials

Proposal of the European Commission for a regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.

Responses are requested by: 5 March 2004

Consultation details

In March 2003 the Agency announced the European Commissions intention to amend Council Directive 89/109/EEC - the so-called framework directive. That Directive lays down the first principle that no substance shall migrate from any material or article intended to come into contact with food in quantities that could endanger human health or affect the nature or quality of the food.

It also makes provision for: labelling of food contact materials and articles that are not in contact with food at the time they are sold to consumers; positive lists of substances authorised for use in manufacturing food contact materials and articles to the exclusion of all other substances; the evaluation of substances to be included in positive lists; specific rules for particular materials; and, procedures and criteria for the making of rules particular to specific materials and articles.

Following its own extensive internal consultation lasting many months, the European Commission has adopted a proposal that it has now made to the Council and the European Parliament to bring these principles up to date and to introduce other principles to food contact materials and articles that already apply elsewhere in EU food law. A copy of this proposal is attached in full with the Commission's own explanation of its intention.

The proposal is intended to deal with important technological developments in food contact materials technology. It also makes traceability and labelling requirements clearer and makes the process of authorising substances for inclusion in positive lists more open. It should provide the means for directly applicable European regulations, establish reference laboratories that will improve enforcement of the rules within the EU and clarify the extent to which those involved in the manufacture and commercial use of these materials and articles need to provide compliance assurance.

The FSA welcome any comments on the adopted proposal. Initial negotiations have already begun in the Council. Early indications are that the Parliament and the Irish Presidency of the Council are looking to work together to process this proposal as quickly as possible to complete the first reading stage.

The danger for the proposal is that, if it is not cleared through the stages of consideration as quickly as possible, it will be caught by the prorogation of the Parliament whilst elections take place in the Spring. That, and the replacement of Commissioners after the European Parliament elections could cause severe delays in the progress of these proposals. The next Council working party meeting at which the first reading of these proposals will continue, and at which they may be completed, will take place on 16 February 2004 and early indications are that other meetings will be called at short notice if necessary.

A detailed explanation of the proposal Article by Article is available on the FSA web site at:

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