Following recommendations by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in June 2018 the European Commission amended the rules on plastics and articles which come into contact with food.

What is happening?

Allowing companies a one year grace period, the amendments introduced by the Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/831 amending Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food) (the Regulation) will apply from 26 June 2019.

Why does it matter?

Aligning the law with the latest EFSA research, the Regulation introduces two key changes:

  • two new substances are authorised for use in plastics and food contact materials and articles (ie packaging and food/drink processing machines), and
  • the specific migration limit (ie the amount of a specific hazardous substance which can migrate from the material to the food and still be safe to consume) is altered for various substances.

As mentioned, food retailers have been given a one year grace period to comply with these changes. Plastic materials and articles which complied with the law before this amendment may be placed on the market until 26 June 2019, and may remain on there until exhaustion of stocks.

What action should you take?

Retailers should:

  • check with all food suppliers that they have updated their declaration of compliance for food contact materials (which is written evidence that the materials comply with legal requirements) and keep a record of these in case you are asked for these by trading standards or environmental health officers
  •  conduct a review of the food contact materials currently in circulation and plan towards the implementation deadlines.