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Stop migration of harmful chemicals into our food

Chemical Pollution

Stop migration of harmful chemicals into our food

Published on 09 Apr 2019

Take part in the European Commission’s public consultation before May 6th 2019

– And please support 5 key principles which should govern food contact materials legislation

Did you know that there are 1000s of chemicals in food packaging that can migrate into our food, and some of them are harmful? If the wider public knew how the EU legislation allows the hormone disrupting chemicals PFAS, bisphenols and many others in materials that are used for food, they would be shocked.

Now, for the first time in 40 years, the European Commission has decided to evaluate the legal framework that governs chemicals in materials in contact with food. A public consultation has been launched which allows all stakeholders and individuals to have their say about harmful chemicals migrating into our food.

A group of 9 NGO’s have analysed the gaps and flaws in the current legal system and we have developed 5 key principles which should govern the future legislation on food contact materials. Based on these principles and given the blatant shortcomings of the current EU legislation, we will be working for a new legislation based on these principles.

You can help by:

  • Participating to the public consultation (takes about 30mins) before the 6th of May 2019;
  • Promoting the 5 principles to your network and at a national level.

The consultation website is here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2017-5809429/public-consultation_en. It is possible to answer as a “citizen” or as a stakeholder (e.g. an NGO) with knowledge in the field, which gives access to more detailed questions.

If you wish to sign up to a call for new legislation based on the 5 key principles or receive more information or a preview of detailed responses to the public consultation, please contact sidsel.dyekjaer@chemtrust.org

Organisations consulted on the key principles: CHEM Trust, EEB, Client Earth, HEAL, BEUC, Chemsec, Danish Consumer Council, Food Packaging Forum and US Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

While the EU consultation is looking backward on an outdated regulatory system with incredible flaws, we believe we should take the opportunity of the current evaluation process to call for a comprehensive and new EU regulation of chemicals in food contact materials based on the following five key principles:

A new EU regulation of chemicals in food contact materials must ensure:

1. A high level of protection of human health

All substances used in food contact materials should have adequate safety data, provided by industry and should be regularly reviewed for this use by public authorities. The presence of substances that are already restricted in the EU, and those meeting the REACH criteria for Substances of Very High Concern, such as CMRs, sensitizers or endocrine disrupters, should be automatically prohibited.

2. Thorough assessment of chemicals in materials and final articles

The presence in, and migration of, chemicals in food contact articles – including Non-Intentionally Added Substances (NIAS) – should be measured, assessed and controlled. Absence of reliable migration data should imply presumption of full migration. Assessments of migration should include mixture effects and take a precautionary approach to exposures from non-FCM sources. Both industry and regulators should ensure that any migration is understood and limited to ensure a high level of protection of public health.

3. Effective enforcement

National governments must ensure effective enforcement, including checks on both imported and EU-manufactured finished articles using the best available analytical methods. Producers and importers of chemicals used in food contact material should always be responsible for providing adequate analytical standards and analytical methods to regulators and test laboratories. In event of contamination of products with problematic chemicals, producers should be obliged to notify the regulators.

4. A clean circular economy based on non-toxic material cycles

As the EU’s transition to a circular economy gains momentum, it is vital that the EU’s efforts to encourage recycling do not perpetuate the use of harmful chemicals in FCM. Adequate regulation and enforcement of all types of recycled food contact materials is required to ensure that recycled food contact materials are never less safe than virgin materials.

5. Transparency and participation

Supply chains and final consumers should have a right to know the identity and safety information on chemicals used in, and migrating from, food contact materials. Regulatory and policy processes should as a minimum adhere to the same standards of openness and stakeholder participation that have been established in REACH.

More information:

Commission evaluation website: https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/chemical_safety/food_contact_materials/evaluation_en

CHEM Trust’s website on food contact material: https://chemtrust.org/food-contact/

Heal briefing on food contact material: https://www.env-health.org/food-contact-materials-and-chemical-contamination/

Food Packaging Forum: https://www.foodpackagingforum.org/