Food Law News - UK - 2007

FSA Consultation Letter, 3 July 2007

CONTACT MATERIALS Consultation on Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (Lid Gaskets) (England) Regulations 2007

For a copy of the consultation documents (including a copy of the EU Regulation), see: Lid Gaskets Consultation

The proposed draft Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (Lid Gaskets) (England) Regulations 2007 will make provision for enforcement authorities in England to enforce the requirements of Commission Regulation (EC) No. 372/2007 that lays down transitional migration limits for plasticisers in gaskets in lids intended to come into contact with foods. Responses are requested by: 10 August 2007.

Consultation details

A new directly applicable time limited European Regulation (EC) No. 372/2007 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food came into force on 22 April 2007. It lays down transitional migration limits for plasticisers in gaskets in lids intended to come into contact with food. Without the proposed English Regulations that are the subject of this consultation, the normal offences, penalties and devolved powers of enforcement will not be in place. Thus, this consultation is time limited for six weeks, as opposed to the normal 12 weeks, because of the short term nature of the proposed Regulations that will apply. In the longer term the transposition of Commission Directive 2007/19/EC will properly put these measures in place. These proposed English Regulations will cease to have effect when the time limit on the European Regulation expires.

We would welcome your comments on the proposed draft Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (Lid Gaskets) ( England ) Regulations 2007. The proposed Regulations make provision, in relation to the EC Regulation, for:

The European Regulation was published in the Official Journal (OJ) of the European Union (EU) on 3 April 2007 (OJ L92 3.4.2007 p.9-12). It came into force on 22 April 2007 and is directly applicable throughout the EU, and shall apply until 30 June 2008. A copy of the European Regulation is attached at Annex C and is also available to download free of charge from the EU website

The Food Standards Agency in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland will each consult on parallel but separate Regulations that will apply in their territories.

Gaskets in lids intended to come into contact with food fall under the scope of the plastics Directive 2002/72/EC, as amended. However, the Directive applies to materials and articles, and parts thereof, which consist exclusively of plastics or are composed of two or more layers consisting exclusively of plastics. Gaskets in metal lids could alternatively be regarded as a plastic part of a material or article and thus covered by Directive 2002/72/EC or as a plastic coating on a metal substrate and, hence, not covered by that Directive. Consequently, there are separate rules across Member States that may pose a barrier to trade. As such, it has been necessary to clarify the position regarding gaskets in lids and fix transitional specific migration limits (SML). These SMLs will apply to the sum of a number of plasticisers used in gaskets in lids coming into contact with fatty foods and permit the free circulation of those products affected, the lids and foods that pose a significant risk are immediately excluded from the market. The European Regulation also provides industry with sufficient time to finalise the development of gaskets that are compliant with the SML laid down in Directive 2002/72/EC, as amended by Directive 2007/19/EC.

The plasticisers with the transitional SML are:

During the course of European negotiations, all organisations on the Agency's database of contacts with an interest in the development of policy, issues and legislation on food contact materials were consulted on the initial development of proposals in early 2005. Subsequently, an informal written consultation took place in October 2005, when those proposals were last amended. The proposal was also discussed informally, during regular meetings with particular stakeholders groups likely to be directly affected by the requirements of the European Regulation. Comments received during and after informal consultations indicated that those businesses likely to be affected welcomed the introduction of transitional migration limits.

Enforcement requirements for EC Regulation 372/2007

The purpose of the proposed SI, and the subject of this consultation, is to provide for the enforcement of the European Regulation in England . They also provide that any person who fails to comply with the requirements of Regulation 372/2007 is liable, if convicted of an offence on indictment under Section 4(1)(a) under these Regulations, to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine or both; on summary conviction they are liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both.

Proposed timetable for the England amendment Regulations dates and introduction

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