EU Parliament starts inquiry into regulation of FCMs

A European Parliament committee has started an inquiry into the current regulatory system for chemicals in food packaging. The inquiry will investigate how well the regulatory system protects consumers, and identify gaps or aspects that might need to be reassessed. It is led by Danish MEP Christel Schaldemose. The inquiry, to be conducted by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (Envi), comes after industry and NGOs have repeatedly questioned the lack of harmonised EU laws covering chemicals in food contact materials (FCMs) such as paper, ink, coatings and glues. Last month, industry pushed for more EU-level regulatory harmonisation at a conference hosted by the Luxembourg presidency of the EU. But Michael Flüh, acting director of DG Sante, the European Commission’s health and food safety directorate, said the Commission plans to focus on improving mutual recognition of national packaging rules, rather than pan-European regulation. And a meeting on European FCM regulation hosted by Ms Schaldemose and the Danish Consumer Council today confirmed that opinions about the efficiency of the current regulatory system are divided. Ludovica Verzegnassi from Nestlé’s chemical safety department emphasised that industry wants new, harmonised EU legislation. However, Chantal Bruetschy from the Commission’s DG for Health and Consumers, said the EU system for FCM regulation is one of the best in the world. Michael Warhurst, executive director of CHEM Trust, told Chemical Watch Ms Bruetschy’s comments failed to recognise what he sees as “the scale of failure of the current system. We hope the European Parliament’s inquiry will highlight these failings and put pressure on the Commission to develop a better system.” An official hearing on the inquiry is scheduled for 26 January. Further information is available at: Parliament inquiry.

Chemical Watch, 12 November 2015 ; ;