EFSA launches cooperation project on non-plastic food contact materials

The European Food Safety Authority has set up an EFSA scientific cooperation (ESCO) working group to collect and analyse information on the safety of substances used in non-plastic materials which come into contact with food.

This follows a number of incidents in recent years in which certain substances used in non-plastic food contact materials (such as inks and adhesives) have been found to migrate into foods. Whilst EU rules specify that all materials coming into contact with foods must be safe, many non-plastic components of food contact materials - unlike plastic materials - are not subject to specific provisions at the European level.

The working group has been created following discussions on this issue at EFSA’s Advisory Forum, which brings together representatives of national food safety authorities. It is composed of experts from the EU Member States on the regulation and safety assessment of food contact materials, as well as members of EFSA’s scientific Panel which works on this issue[1].

The group will collect information and identify expertise which is available in the EU Member States on the evaluation of substances used in non-plastic food contact materials. It will also identify strengths and weaknesses in different approaches used for risk assessment, propose criteria for future safety evaluations and suggest further actions to be taken.

Following discussions with stakeholders, the group will aim to present a report to EFSA’s Executive Director by the end of March 2011.

The first meeting of the working group took place on 17 February 2010 at EFSA’s headquarters in Parma.

[1] The Panel on food contact materials, enzymes, flavourings and processing aids (CEF Panel).