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 and starting substances permitted in food contact plastics manufacturing
  • a list of plastic and production aids for use in food contact plastics
  • any time and migration limits on using them

Approving monomers and additives

The European Commission approves monomers and plastics additives. Producers make applications to add monomers or additives to the approved lists to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which may be placed onto the market in the EU and Northern Ireland

Under current operating arrangements for Northern Ireland, businesses seeking a new authorisation for placing these materials on the NI market will continue to follow EU food rules. From Autumn 2023, the Windsor Framework will allow GB public health standards to apply for pre-packed retail goods moved via a new NI retail movement scheme and placed on the NI market. Therefore, goods moving via this route containing GB authorised materials will be able to be placed on the NI market.

Read 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. This applies so long as they don't affect the food or exceed legal limits for both plastic and food additives.

  • Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland
    028 9041 7700
Developed with:
  • Food Standards Agency