EU Parliament Urges Harmonized Legislation for Food Contact Materials
The EU Parliament recently published a Resolution considering the successes and shortcomings of the implementation of the Food Contact Materials Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004. While acknowledging that the Regulation formed a solid foundation and that its objectives were still relevant, the Resolution identifies a number of shortcomings with the FCM regulatory regime.
The Resolution identifies the lack of specific legislation dealing with the materials listed in Annex I of Regulation No. 1935/2004. It notes that, of the 17 materials identified, only 4 – plastics (including recycled plastics), ceramics, regenerated cellulose, and active and intelligent materials – have been the subject of specific legislation. The resolution recommends the enactment of specific, harmonizing legislation on these materials, in particular paper and board, varnishes and coatings, metals and alloys, printing inks and adhesives, and the revision of existing legislation, especially Council Directive 84/500/EEC on ceramics.
The Resolution also contains a number of proposals regarding the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Firstly, the EU Parliament recognizes the role of the EFSA in implementing the FCM regime through the risk assessments it conducts on materials currently subject to specific legislation. It recommends that the EFSA expand its risk assessment operations, and calls on the EU Commission to increase the EFSA’s funding to this end. It also recommends that the EFSA coordinate its efforts with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Secondly, the Resolution recommends that the EFSA amend its risk assessment parameters to include pregnant and breastfeeding women. It also recommends that EFSA consider the effects of low-dose exposure and non-monotonic dose responses among its criteria. Additionally, the Resolution advises that EFSA examine the possibility of deleterious microorganisms in food contact materials and calls on it to publish an opinion on this subject. Finally, it asks EFSA to consider the so-called “cocktail effect” of food contact materials, i.e. materials which may cause adverse effects when a person is exposed to them concurrently, even if the doses remain low. It also calls on the Commission to consider this matter, including the long-term effects, in determining the migration limits of FCMs.
The EU Parliament recommends the creation of links between the FCM regime and other legislative areas. Firstly, it calls for the establishment of synergies between Regulation No. 1935/2004 and the circular economy, including specific measures relating to recycled paper and board, as these may only be finitely reused and thus a steady supply of fresh wood is required. Secondly, the Resolution asks that what it terms the “safety assessment gap” between FCM and REACH legislation be bridged, and that harmful materials covered by REACH legislation also be covered by the FCM regime. It names, by way of example, SVHCs, CMRs, bio-accumulative chemicals and endocrine disrupting chemicals (particular attention is drawn to endocrine disruptors).
Further, the Resolution highlights nanomaterials as an emerging area which requires regulation in the context of FCM.
Finally, the Resolution explores the extension of a requirement to provide a Declaration of Compliance (DoC) in respect of all FCMs, as is currently the case with those subject to specific legislation.