Study for EP committee recommends further regulation of FCMs

The legal framework, regulating food contact materials (FCMs) at EU level, is ‘not complete’ and specific measures should be brought into harmonise priority materials, according to a study commissioned by the European Parliament (EP)’s Environment Committee. The study, produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), follows the committee’s workshop in January on FCMs legislation, led by Environment Committee member Christel Schaldemose. The committee is finalising its own report on the subject, and the EPRS report will feed into this process. Many stakeholders, says the study, “see no alternative to EU-level harmonisation of FCMs”. Issues identified include member states being able to adopt measures at national level, which, it says, could create internal market barriers, without necessarily securing FCM safety; increase compliance costs; reduce competitiveness and innovation; and delay market access for businesses. The study consulted member state competent authorities, businesses and trade bodies, the majority of which recommended paper and board as the number one FCM candidate to be regulated under EU law. This was followed by printing inks; silicones and coatings; and rubbers.

Currently only four FCMs, out of 17 for which specific safety requirements may be adopted, are subject to ‘specific measures’ and detailed harmonisation at EU level:

  • plastics (including recycled plastics);
  • ceramics;
  • regenerated cellulose film; and
  • active and intelligent materials

Stakeholders acknowledged full harmonisation is a ‘time-consuming’ process and, therefore, urged the adoption of specific measures for some of the materials listed in Annex 1 to the framework Regulation. They recommend EU specific measures should establish a single standard for analytical testing methods, to ensure the relevant FCM is tested with the same method across the EU. Survey participants said that control activities are not carried out with the ‘same intensity’ across member states, with some stakeholders saying they are only carried out from “time to time” rather than regularly, as requested by law. Limited data on this point means further research would be justified, the study said. Michael Warhurst, director of NGO ChemTrust, which is campaigning for greater regulation of FCMs and recently published a briefing on the subject, said: “It is unacceptable that FCMs do not have proper EU regulation. The [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][European] Commission must acknowledge this policy area needs the resources necessary to develop and implement a regulatory system that protects the public, and addresses important issues like the use of recycled materials in food packaging.” A copy of the study is available at: EPRS study

Chemical Watch, 12 May 2016 ; ;[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]