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All about Food contact materials (FCMs) for plastic industry

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Food contact materials (FCMs) and its briefing, purposes, and its influence on the Member States and related corporation for certain materials.

Food contact materials (FCMs) and its briefing, purposes, and its influence on the Member States and related corporation for certain materials.

The briefing of Food contact materials (FCMs)

Food contact materials (FCMs) are all materials which are or are intended or likely to be in contact with food such as food packaging, kitchenware, and tableware, as well as materials for food manufacturing, preparation, storage, and distribution. They can thus influence food safety and quality throughout the whole of the food supply chain. FCMs cover a wide range of different materials such as plastic, paper, glass, and metal, but also adhesives, printing inks, and coatings used in the finishing of the final articles. Actors in the chain include manufacturers of raw materials, intermediate and final Food contact materials FCMs and food products, as well as importers and distributors.

Aim of Food contact materials (FCMs)

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 is the framework legislation for Food contact materials  FCMs. Its purpose is to ensure the effective functioning of the internal market for materials and articles intended to come into contact with food and secure a high level of protection of human health, as well as the interests of consumers. It sets out general requirements that all FCMs must be manufactured in accordance with good manufacturing practice (GMP) so that they are safe and do not change the properties of food in unacceptable ways. As the general requirements for all FCMs set out under Article 3 are linked to the general obligations on GMP, separate rules on those good manufacturing practice GMP are laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006.

The framework legislation also sets out other rules, including those on labeling and on compliance documentation and traceability, and lays down the risk assessment process involving European Food Safety Authority EFSA as part of the authorization process for substances.

Specific measures for groups of materials and articles, including authorization of substances, may also be introduced. Specific EU measures are in place for plastics, processes for recycling plastics, regenerated cellulose film, ceramics, and active and intelligent materials and articles.

Food contact materials (FCMs) - Specific EU measures are in place for plastics, processes for recycling plastics, regenerated cellulose film, ceramics, and active and intelligent materials and articles.

In the absence of specific EU measures, MSs may maintain or adopt their own national provisions on FCMs provided they comply with the rules of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (Art. 114), replacing the Treaty establishing the European Community. Whilst the framework regulation dates from 2004, its basic provisions are essentially unchanged from the earliest Council Directive on FCMs, Directive 76/893/EEC from 1976.

Food contact materials (FCMs) nowadays

Over recent years, a number of issues linked to FCMs have raised concerns by Member States (MSs), industry, the European Parliament (EP) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the lack of specific EU legislation for certain materials. These relate both to the potential safety issues of FCMs and to the functioning of the internal market. National rules in place in MSs may differ from one another and may introduce inconsistencies in the approach to regulating FCMs, hindering the free movement of those materials and articles within the internal market.

In view of the national legislation in place in EU MSs, setting out individual rules on different materials and substances and of the size and complexity of the supply chain, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) was tasked with carrying out a study on FCMs for which there are no specific measures at EU level to support DG Health and Food Safety in the evaluation of the of the current situation. This includes a market overview of the FCM supply chain, details of the current national measures in place and an analysis of the food safety aspects and burden of the current situation.

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