Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

Providng access to food law since May 1996

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Last updated: 18 August, 2023

Food Contact Materials and Articles

Providing access to the EU and UK legislation

On this page:

  • Summary - Brief details of the chronology of developments linked to this topic
  • EU Legislation - Listing of Regulations covering the topic
  • UK Legislation - Listing of Regulations covering the topic
  • Guidance - Links to recommended supporting documents


EU legislation on 'materials and articles in contact with food' was first adopted in 1976 by Directive 76/893/EEC. The main requirement was that:

'Materials and articles must be manufactured in compliance with good manufacturing practice, so that, under their normal or foreseeable conditions of use, they do not transfer their constituents to foodstuffs in quantities which could :

A supporting Directive (Directive 80/590) provided for the use of a standardised symbol to indicate that an article was suitable for food use:

An updated framework Directive was adopted in late 1988 and published as Directive 89/109. This included a listing of 10 groups for which it was considered appropriate to have more detailed specific directives. The list included the following:

In 2004, the framework control was replaced by Regulation 1935/2004 (see below). It added some additional requirements for 'active and intelligent materials and articles' and extended the listing of potential specific controls to include the following groups:

The Regulation also incorporated the provision relating to the use of the standardised symbol.

Although the 1989 Directive and the current 2004 Regulation identified groups of materials and articles needing specific controls, only a limited number of these have been adopted to date. The following diagram indicates those which have been progressed and those still awaiting adoption:

A larger version of this image is available as a pdf file. See: EU Materials and Articles Controls

For the Commission's page on this topic, see: Food Contact Materials.

EU Law

Framework Regulation:

A consolidated version of the Regulation is also available. See Regulation 1935/2004 - Consolidated Version (dated March 2021 when Regulation 2019/1381 came into effect).

An additional supporting control was also adopted:

Specific Regulations:


A consolidated version of the Regulation is also available. See:: Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 - Consolidated version (September 2020).

Recycled Plastics

The controls on recycled plastic materials and articles have been updated. Most of the new Regulation (2022/1616) comes into effect on 10 October 2022. There are though transitional provisions. Also certain new provisions relating to testing and certification will only enter into force on 20 October 2024.

Former Regulation:

A consolidated version of the Regulation is also available. See: Regulation 282/2008 - Consolidated version (October 2015)

Regenerated Cellulose

Active and Intelligent Material and Articles

Supporting document:



UK Legislation

Brexit: Prior to the IP Completion Day (31 December 2020), the legal requirements given in the EU Regulations listed above still applied to the UK. Since IP Completion Day, the EU Regulations above have been incorporated into UK legislation but with amendments to correct deficiencies. Information on this is given below. For more details of the process of incorporating EU legislation into UK law, see the separate page: UK Food Law: EU Legislation as Amended for the UK. Provisions for the enforcement of the controls (originally the EU Regulations but now as amended) have been provided in the UK Regulations listed below. For Northern Ireland, EU rules still apply.


EU Legislation with links to amended for application in Great Britain:

UK Legislation based on EU Directives

Regenerated Cellulose / Ceramics (implementing Council Directive 84/500/EEC and Commission Directive 2007/42/EC)

N-nitrosamines and N-nitrosatable Substances (implementing Commission Directive 93/11/EEC)


Requirements for implementation and enforcement are provided for the four parts of the United Kingdom.

For Contact Materials, enforcement provision are contained in the Regulations listed in the section above covering the implementation of EU Directives.


Food Contact Materials

A short descriptive leaflet on the EU controls for contact materials (2015)

Union Guidelines on Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food

A detailed guidance document produced by the Commission in 2014. See also: Union Guidance on Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food as regards information in the supply chain (2013)

Recycled Content Used in Plastic Packaging Applications

Published by the British Plastics Federation (BPF) in conjunction with the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) in April 2020. Provides answers to questions about measuring recycled content and highlights important regulatory and technical considerations.

This page was first provided on 16 August 2019

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