Packaging that is designed to come into contact with food is known as 'food contact material'. Other examples of food contact material include:
- cookware/ceramic ware
- cutlery /crockery
- work surfaces
- food processing equipment and machinery
What do we mean by food contact materials?
The European Food Safety Authority has produced this video to explain what food contact materials are:
How is food contact material regulated?
Food contact materials are regulated by European Regulation 1935/2004. This regulation lays down chemical safety requirements for food contact materials that protect both human health and the nature, substance and quality of the food in the packaging.
The regulation covers all food contact material and makes provision for specific controls on some particular groups of food contact materials, including:
- 'active' food contact materials - these release a substance into the food to extend its shelf-life, or to maintain or improve its condition
- 'intelligent' food contact materials - these monitor and react to the condition of the food, or the environment around it within its packaging
- plastics and plastics recycling processes for food contact use
- regenerated cellulose film (RCF)
There are also specific rules for the substances known as BADGE , BFDGE and NOGE for all plastics, adhesives and coatings and for the use of vinyl chloride monomer in food contact plastics.
How the FSA protects consumers
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for making sure that the public is protected from chemicals that could transfer into food from food contact materials.
The FSA manages research and surveys, designed to:
- identify which substances might migrate from various materials
- develop or improve methods for detecting chemicals that may transfer into food