EU Parliament’s ENVI Committee Builds Awareness about State of EU Food Contact Legislation

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November 13, 2017 - Scott Stephens

On 6 November 2017, the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) held an exchange of views on food contact materials (FCMs) legislation with the European Commission. 

3E Review

The discussion centered on the EU’s current legal framework for regulating FCMs, Regulation 1935/2004/EC, and making improvements to the legislation going forward. Specifically, focus was placed on the framework regulation’s provision that allows the Commission to establish specific regulatory measures for any of the 17 FCMs defined in the regulation’s annex. So far, only four of the 17 materials are subject to specific measures at EU level.

This formal discussion between the European Parliament and the Commission follows the Parliament’s adoption on 6 October 2016 of a resolution that urges implementation of additional legislation at the EU level (i.e. specific measures) to regulate more of the 17 official FCM types. In the resolution, the Parliament acknowledges that the framework regulation remains a solid legal basis but, at the same time, emphasizes that in its current form it has a number of shortcomings. One of the most significant ones, the Parliament points out, is a lack of uniform, consistent rules across EU member states, which in turn has led to internal barriers to trade and gaps in public health protection EU-wide.

The resolution specifically calls on the Commission to prioritize the adoption of specific measures to regulate paper and board, varnishes and coatings, metals and alloys, printing inks and adhesives at EU level.

Other FCM-related regulatory shortcomings the Parliament in its resolution urges the Commission to address include:

  • An improved risk assessment;
  • Better coordination between REACH and the FCM legislation (as FCMs are a significant source of human exposure to chemicals of concern, such as perfluorinated compounds and endocrine disrupting chemicals); and
  • Improved quality of documentation accompanying FCMs in order to verify compliance of FCMs with relevant rules.

3E Analysis

While the EU authorities recently have held a number of awareness-building activities focused on the current state of regulation of food contact materials, EU decision-making bodies have yet to put forward any concrete legislative proposals to make changes to the current FCM regulations.

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