Products intended for contact with food - legal requirements
Currently, a lot is said about being fit and healthy food because we know that an investment in our health is an investment in ourselves. However, we do not always wonder how many processes along the way have an impact on the food products that are delivered to us - on the conditions and the way they are stored, prepared or served. Those in which food is in contact with many materials are called FCM (Food Contact Materials). So how should the producer behave so that what we get is still healthy? What should we expect from producers offering products intended for contact with food? What requirements do the EU authorities impose on manufacturers (more about product conformity assessment)? What are the risks of non-compliance with EU regulations? The answers to these and many other questions will appear in this text.
Products intended for contact with food - general and specific standards
To make sure that the product that comes into contact with food is made in accordance with EU requirements, it is worth looking at two general legal acts:
- Commission Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006 of 22 December 2006 on the safety of food and nutrition - ensures continuous compliance with the requirements for the production of FCM,
- 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 - it sets out the rules of safety and indifference for all FCM.
In addition to these "basic" standards, there are also specific standards that apply only to certain materials and articles intended to come into contact with food - they contain specific requirements for their production and placing on the market. I am talking about:
- Commission Regulation (EC) No. 10/2011 of 14 January 2011 (plastic materials and products);
- Commission Regulation EC No. 450/2009 of May 29, 2009 (active and intelligent materials intended for contact with food).
Good manufacturing practice, i.e. safety first of all
It is thanks to good manufacturing practice that the manufacturer provides the consumer with comfort and certainty that the products in contact with food are made in a safe manner. We can find out how to produce them in accordance with EU standards by reading the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2023/2006, which unifies and stabilizes the requirements for the production of products that come into contact with food. Belong to them:
- appropriate working conditions and its organization on the premises of the plant, where the production takes place,
- broadening the knowledge or training employees on critical stages of production,
- quality control and quality assurance system,
- selection of materials ensuring the safety of users.
It should also be emphasized that the above requirements apply to all production processes of the product.
With (material) health
Another important issue is the materials from which products come into contact with food. They have a significant impact on our health, as the use of one that does not comply with EU standards may result in the penetration of harmful substances into the food or changes in the composition of the food, its smell and taste (change in organoleptic characteristics). In addition, Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004, which addresses the above issues, also mentions the need for a safety assessment of substances used in production with the participation of the European Food Safety Authority, as well as the subsequent traceability of the material or product (traceability).
We have a finished product made of materials that are harmless to the human body. We have documentation confirming the product's compliance with EU standards. So what else do we need? Information policy. Thanks to it, we will be sure that we have made every effort to ensure that the product is used by the consumer in a correct and safe manner. The only question is how to properly inform the user about the proper use of the product?
It is the main communication tool between the producer and the consumer. So what should it be like to make it as good and functional as possible? Has to:
- include the words "food contact" or
- tips on using the product, e.g. a kettle,
- have a "glass and fork" symbol,
- recommend how to safely and properly use the product,
- contain the name, address of the processor, distributor or producer (the seat must be in the EU),
- be able to trace the material or product path,
- be placed directly on the product or its label or packaging,
- be in Polish (obligatory).
One, two, three… the EU is watching!
The Member States of the Community are responsible for the implementation of producer obligations. Their bodies carry out controls at production plants - they take samples and test in a laboratory (national KLR), they visit, checking whether the production process is carried out properly. However, if during such a visit it turns out that there are irregularities, the producer bears full responsibility for this.
Compliance material, i.e. health on the plate
To sum up, before a product that comes into contact with food becomes available, it must meet a number of EU restrictions, including concerning the materials from which it is made and how to ensure its proper use. It is thanks to them that we can be sure that we provide our consumer with the best, i.e. healthy and safe.
Paulina Langner, junior lawyer at Compliant Product