On 1st December a new European Commission started its five year term, and during their first week in office, CHEM Trust sent a letter to the new EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, reminding her of the urgent need for reform of EU laws on chemicals in food contact materials.
Our letter set out the multiple concerns that CHEM Trust has regarding the current use of harmful chemicals in food contact materials (FCM):
- Toxic chemicals are frequently found in FCM: 1000s of chemicals are used in FCMs and some of them migrate into our food, including chemicals that are known to impact on human health.
- Lack of harmonised rules for most FCMs: Today, harmonised rules are missing for commonly used food packaging and food contact materials such as paper, board, coatings, inks and glues. This disrupts the internal market and provides ineffective protection of public health.
- Inadequate safety provisions for the most harmful substances: There is a need for a general ban on the substances of most concern, such as endocrine or neurodevelopment disrupting substances
- FCM rules miss out the majority of the chemicals: The current testing requirements do not properly address a wide range of unknown and potentially toxic Non-Intentionally Added Substances (the so-called NIAS) that migrate into food in significant quantities.
The letter also reminded Commissioner Kyriakides of the 5 key principles for future legislation on FCM that have been signed onto by 25 NGOs:
The new EU regulation of chemicals in food contact materials must ensure:
- A high level of protection of human health;
- Thorough assessment of chemicals in materials and final articles;
- Effective enforcement;
- A clean circular economy based on non-toxic material cycles;
- Transparency and participation.
A recent letter on chemicals policy from 24 NGOs to the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also included a call for the Commission to present new legislation on FCM .
In April 2019 the European Parliament called on the Commission to revise the FCM legislation no later than June 2020 in order to effectively reduce the content of hazardous substances, with focus on the endocrine disrupting chemicals
Since September 2018, the Commission has been working on an evaluation of the current legislation on food contact materials
On December 11th, the Commission launched a first Communication on the European Green Deal, stepping up actions on chemicals in general. The Deal includes the announcement of a future “Farm to Fork strategy” which could be an opportunity to include proposals for reforming the EU legislation on food contact materials to ensure that the future will bring safe food packaging.
Dr Michael Warhurst, Executive Director of CHEM Trust, said:
“The EU’s rules on chemical in food contact materials are not fit for purpose – industry, civil society organisations and national officials have all made clear that new EU-level rules are needed urgently.
The new Commission must prioritise the development of new regulations, ensuring that all stakeholders are involved in creating a more effective and protective system. “
We will publish the reply from the Commissioner when we receive it.