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A workshop looking at gaps between the EU laws on chemicals in food contact materials and REACH

On April 29th, 2019, CHEM Trust organised a workshop to discuss gaps, overlaps and possible synergies between the EU’s main chemicals law REACH and the EU’s laws on chemicals in food contact materials (FCM). The workshop aimed to give government and EU regulatory experts on REACH and FCM an opportunity to discuss, and develop new insights into, what role REACH could have in assisting with regulation of chemicals in food contact materials.

This event took place at a time where there is increasing discussion about the need to improve the EU’s laws on chemicals in food contact materials, with an evaluation currently underway, assisted by a study from consultants Ecorys. There was a meeting earlier this month to discuss the draft conclusions of this study, and we are expecting a plan of action from the European Commission in spring 2020.

The workshop was under Chatham House rules, so the statements in the minutes that we are publishing today are not attributed to anyone. In addition, the notes may be incomplete, and the points made are not necessarily supported by all participants. Thus, the minutes should not be used as a reference document but purely as a collection of points made during the discussion.

The workshop participants included experts from three European Commission’s departments – Health, Grow, and Environment, from EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) and from some EU Member States. A consultant from Ecorys, who are doing the Commission’s evaluation study, also participated. There is a full list of participants in the minutes; CHEM Trust would like to thank them for their participation.

In the morning, presentations were given by experts from ECHA, EFSA and two Member States:

Based on these presentations, the participants chose to explore the following issues in more detail:

  • What role could REACH data have in ensuring safety of FCM
  • Challenges related to chemicals in non-harmonised FCM materials [EU FCM laws have harmonised EU lists of permitted chemicals in plastics, but not for most other materials e.g. ink, paper and card]
  • Plastics and the need for reassessment of the Union List [the list of chemicals permitted in plastics]

The detailed minutes will give you an insight into how the discussions went.

CHEM Trust’s Policy and Science consultant Sidsel Dyekjaer said:

 “The feedback from attendees was that they much appreciated the open discussions between experts from different backgrounds. There was a clear interest in learning more about the potential role that EU chemicals law REACH could have in improving the operation of the EU’s laws on chemicals in food contact materials.

Hopefully the workshop itself, and the notes provided here, will be useful in the ongoing review of the EU’s laws on chemicals in FCM. CHEM Trust calls on the new Commission to make revising and improving these laws a priority.”