EFSA publishes guidelines on “active” and “intelligent” substances in food contact materials

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published guidelines for industry on how to submit applications for the safety assessment of active and intelligent substances in materials which are intended to come into contact with food.

In general terms, active food contact materials absorb or release substances in order to preserve or improve the condition of packaged food or extend its shelf life. Intelligent food contact materials monitor the condition of packaged food or the surrounding environment, providing information on the freshness of the food.

Regulation (EC) n° 450/2009 lays out an authorisation process for the use of new active or intelligent substances in food contact materials. The legislation foresees that manufacturers requesting such an authorisation must first submit an application for the assessment of the safety of the relevant substance(s) to EFSA.

The guidelines specify which aspects EFSA will take into account when assessing the safety of active or intelligent substances - for example, their toxicological properties and the extent to which they, or their breakdown products, may transfer into foods.

The document also sets out the types of data that EFSA needs to conduct its safety assessments such as information on the physical or chemical characteristics of the relevant substances, how they are manufactured and their intended uses.

The guidelines were adopted by EFSA’s expert panel on food contact materials, the CEF Panel, on 21 July following a public consultation.

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