Food packaging

Plastics in food packaging

There are regulations in place to cover plastic products, materials and additives that come into contact with food.

How food contact plastics are regulated

The Materials and Articles in Contact with Food Regulations set an overall migration limit for all food contact plastics. The regulations establish:

  • 'positive lists' of monomers (chemical compounds that join together to form longer molecules - polymers) and starting substances permitted in food contact plastics manufacturing
  • a list of plastic and production aids regulated by the European Commission taking into consideration opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for use in food contact plastics
  • any time and migration limits on using them

Approving monomers and additives

The European Commission is responsible for approving monomers and plastics additives. Applications to add monomers or additives to the approved lists are made to the EFSA. UK companies send their applications via the FSA. You can EFSA guidance on approving monomers and additives.

Food additives in food contact plastics

You can use permitted food additives in the manufacture of food contact plastics, so long as they don't affect the food or exceed legal limits for both plastic and food additives.