22 July 2016
European Commission Aims to Amend and Tighten Rules on Food Contact Materials
At an international conference that took place in mid-June this year, a legislative officer from the European Commission’s department on Health and Food Safety highlighted that the Commission will introduce new amendments to EU Regulation 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.
Hong Kong businesses should be aware that these amendments (the sixth and the seventh), which will come into force in the third quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 respectively, will likely include migration limits for three oligomers and aluminium, and will also reduce the current limit for zinc. In all likelihood, the sixth amendment will include the publishing of migration testing guidelines. Further changes will also be made in the text of the Regulation, including in its Annex III and V.
Regulation 10/2011 began to apply EU-wide in May 2011. It establishes specific requirements for the manufacture and marketing of plastic materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with food, already in contact with food or which can be reasonably expected to come into contact with food. It applies to, amongst others, materials and articles which consist exclusively of plastics, plastic multi-layer materials and articles that are held together by adhesives or other means, and plastic layers in multi-material multi-layer materials and articles.
The Regulation also contains a list that covers all the authorised substances that may be intentionally used in the manufacture of plastic layers in plastic materials and articles. This list was amended by the Commission on 6 February 2015 through Regulation 2015/174. The amendments added new substances to the list, added and deleted Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) numbers for several substances and changed the specific migration limit of several substances. In its amendments, the Commission has also made several corrections: the name of the substance of tartaric acid was clarified, and a range of technical mistakes were rectified. Hong Kong businesses should be aware that the amendments of Regulation 2015/174 have started applying since 26 February 2016. In the case that plastic materials and articles were already on the market before that date, they are allowed to remain there until the stocks are exhausted.
Besides the above-mentioned list, Regulation 10/2011 has several general and more specific requirements for any substance that is used in the manufacture of plastic layers in plastic materials and articles. Amongst these requirements are the need for substances to be of a technical quality and purity suitable for the intended and foreseeable use of the materials and articles, as well as the need for them to be subject to specific and overall migration limits.
Hong Kong traders are advised to examine Regulation 10/2011 and the changes made to that regulation by the amending Regulation 2015/174. They should also keep an eye out for details on the upcoming amendments to Regulation 10/2011.
Please click on the following to read Regulation 10/2011 and Regulation 2015/174.