In October 2021, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Farm to Fork Strategy, supporting targets and measures to reduce pollution along the value chain including EU Food Contact Materials (FCM).
Parliament called on the European Commission to bring forward the date of the publication of their proposal for a new regulatory framework.
Action on the most hazardous chemicals
The resolution reiterated the Parliament’s call for specific provisions to substitute endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and other hazardous chemicals in food contact materials.
Recent studies have demonstrated the presence of hazardous chemicals in food packaging. For example, a study from Irish NGO VOICE found harmful PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in food packaging available on the Irish market. The study adds to previous studies that found PFAS in food contact materials, including one by CHEM Trust and eight other civil society organisations, which showed the widespread use of and contamination by PFAS in disposable food packaging and tableware across Europe.
CHEM Trust is calling for the most hazardous chemicals to be banned in consumer products, including food contact materials, by 2030.
The resolution also stressed that equal safety requirements should be applied to virgin and recycled materials.
Hazardous chemicals are not removed during the recycling process – meaning that recycled materials can contain hazardous chemicals, sometimes at levels higher than those found in virgin materials. CHEM Trust, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Zero Waste Europe and ClientEarth recently published an infographic illustrating how harmful chemicals in food packaging can hamper the circular economy and put our health at risk.
MEP shares concerns
Piernicola Pedicini MEP, speaking at a conference hosted by Safe Food Advocacy Europe (SAFE) on 10th November, raised concerns about the risks that hazardous chemicals (such as BPA, EDCs and fluorinated chemicals) pose to human health, as well as concerns around the ‘cocktail effect’ of chemicals.
Pedicini also highlighted that the European Parliament has been calling for new regulations for food contact materials not yet covered by specific legislation for 5 years, but that there had been no real progress since then. He expressed concerns that the adoption of the new framework has been postponed to May 2023.
CHEM Trust’s Chief EU Policy Advocate, Stefan Scheuer, spoke on the same panel as Pedicini and highlighted that FCM policy has fallen behind other chemical safety laws, and that as a result public health is not properly protected from hazardous chemicals in FCMs. CHEM Trust is calling for a substantial reform of the FCM framework regulation.
During the conference, European Commission DG Sante policy officer Jonathan Briggs provided an update on the ongoing revision of the FCM regulation, and confirmed that a Staff Working Document will be published this year. There will also be a 12-week consultation in early 2022 to gain further views from stakeholders, as well as targeted activities such as expert groups, interviews, surveys and workshops.
Food for Thought newsletter
Keep up to date with developments in the revision of the FCM regulation, as well as key resources, by signing up to receive the Food for Thought newsletter. ‘Food for Thought’ is produced by a collaboration between CHEM Trust, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Zero Waste Europe.