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Materials and articles which come into contact with foodstuffs

This Regulation lays down a general framework for materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with food. All materials and articles used to package food must comply with the requirements of the Regulation. In order to take into account scientific progress, the new framework authorises the introduction of “active” and “intelligent” packaging which extends the shelf-life of food or provides information on its freshness (for example, intelligent packaging may change colour if food has gone off).

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food and repealing Directives 80/590/EEC and 89/109/EEC [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

This Regulation aims at guaranteeing a high level of protection of human health and the interests of consumers with regard to the placing on the Community market of materials and articles intended to come into contact with food either directly or indirectly.

Scope

This Regulation covers all materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with food: all types of packaging, bottles (plastic and glass), cutlery, and even adhesives and inks for printing labels.

The Regulation also introduces specific provisions concerning “active” * and “intelligent” * packaging which extends the shelf-life of food or which reacts when food has gone off (packaging which changes colour, for example).

The Regulation does not cover:

  • materials and articles which are supplied as antiques;
  • covering or coating materials, such as materials which cover cheese rinds, prepared meat products or fruit;
  • fixed water supply equipment.

Requirements for materials and articles

Materials and articles which come into contact with food shall be produced in line with good manufacturing practice. They must under no circumstances transfer substances to the food with which they are in contact in quantities likely to:

  • endanger human health;
  • bring about an unacceptable change in the composition of the food; or
  • bring about a deterioration in the organoleptic characteristics thereof.

If “active” materials and articles change the composition or organoleptic characteristics of food, they must comply with Directive 89/107/EEC on additives and/or any national rules.

The labelling, advertising and presentation of a material or article shall not mislead consumers under any circumstances.

Specific measures for groups of materials and articles

Annex I of this Regulation identifies 17 groups of materials and articles for which specific measures may be adopted:

These specific measures may include:

  • the list of substances authorised for use in the manufacture of materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with food;
  • criteria of purity;
  • specific conditions of use;
  • limits on the migration of certain constituents into or on to food;
  • provisions aimed at protecting human health or ensuring compliance with requirements for materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with food;
  • basic rules for checking compliance with the provisions above;
  • rules concerning the collection of samples;
  • provisions for ensuring traceability;
  • additional provisions of labelling for active and intelligent materials and articles;
  • provisions concerning the establishment of a Community Register of authorised substances, processes, materials or articles;
  • specific procedural rules for the authorisation of a substance, process, material or article.

In the absence of specific measures, Member States may maintain or adopt national provisions.

Authorisation of substances

Applications for authorisation of a new substance for the manufacture of materials or articles intended to come into contact with food shall be made to the competent authority of the Member State where the substance is to be placed on the market. Applications shall then be sent to the European Food Safety Authority which is responsible for evaluating the toxicity of substances in order to avoid any risk to consumers.

Traceability

This Regulation also establishes the requirements to be met regarding the traceability of food contact materials from production to sale.

The labelling or documentation accompanying materials and articles placed on the market in the Community should guarantee the traceability of the said materials and articles. This facilitates control, the recall of defective products, consumer information and the attribution of responsibility.

Labelling

The nature of materials and articles intended to come into contact with food is to be described on their labelling. Materials and articles which are not clearly intended to contain or to package food must bear the words “For food contact” or the symbol given in Annex II (the symbol represents a glass and a fork).

Context

Earlier legislation on materials in contact with foodstuffs protected the health of consumers by ensuring that no material or article in contact with foodstuffs could bring about chemical reactions which would change the composition or organoleptic properties of these foodstuffs (taste, appearance, texture or even smell).

This Regulation repeals this legislation in order to allow the introduction of “active” and “intelligent” packaging. It also repeals Directive 80/590/EEC determining the symbol that may accompany materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs and incorporates the symbol in Annex II (see the above explanation on labelling).

Key terms of the Act
  • Materials and articles intended to come into contact with food: materials and articles that are intended to extend the shelf-life or to maintain or improve the condition of packaged food. They are designed to deliberately incorporate components that would release or absorb substances into or from the packaged food or the environment surrounding the food.
  • Intelligent materials and articles intended to come into contact with food: materials and articles which monitor the condition of packaged food or the environment surrounding the food.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004

3.12.2004

-

OJ L 338 of 13.11.2004

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 596/2009

7.8.2009

-

OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

Last updated: 14.10.2009

See also

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