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Food Safety

Revision of EU Rules

Revision of EU Rules on FCMs

A revision of the EU legislation on FCMs was announced in May 2020 as part of the European Commission's Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system. In it, the Commission commits to revise the FCM legislation to improve food safety and public health (in particular in reducing the use of hazardous chemicals), support the use of innovative and sustainable packaging solutions using environmentally-friendly, re-usable and recyclable materials, and contribute to food waste reduction.

In addition, under the sustainable products initiative announced in the CEAP, it will work on a legislative initiative on re-use in food services to substitute single-use food packaging and cutlery by re-usable products. The key themes and pillars of the revision of EU FCM rules can be found in the table below.

The revision will be based on the findings of the Evaluation of current FCM legislation but will also reflect commitments given in other key strategies, including the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and the Chemicals Strategy for sustainability towards a toxic-free environment.

The starting point for the revision is a roadmap (inception impact assessment) which the Commission published on its Have Your Say website. The roadmap was open for feedback from all stakeholders for six weeks and was supported by a webinar held on Wednesday 20th January 2021. The roadmap and a summary of the feedback can be found in the table below.

A 14 week public consultation was held between 5 October 2022 and 11 January 2023; a summary of the results can be found in the table below. Further consultation activities and study work will be carried out in order to develop a full impact assessment for the revision and eventual legislative proposal. In general, the same stakeholders as for the evaluation will be targeted to support the Commission in its work. Details of commissioned study work can be found below.

If you have any questions or comments on the revision of FCM legislation, you can email SANTE-FCM-REVISIONatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (SANTE-FCM-REVISION[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu).

The following documents support the ongoing activities of the revision of the FCM rules:

DescriptionDateOutput documents
Roadmap (inception impact assessment): Revision of EU rules on food contact materials18 December 2020Roadmap
Webinar on the evaluation and revision of the EU rules on Food Contact Materials20 January 2021Presentation
Recording of the event
Summary of feedback from stakeholders on the roadmap (inception impact assessment)25 January 2022Report
Copy of public consultation questionnaires (EN documentation tool only)5 October 2022Consumer questionnaire
Stakeholder questionnaire
Summary report of the public consultation15 June 2023Summary report
Key themes and pillars of the revision of EU FCM rules5 May 2023View document

The following studies support the ongoing activities of the revision of EU FCM rules:

Title/DescriptionIndicative timingOutput documents

Study on citizen engagement

The purpose of the study is to understand citizens’ level of knowledge and understanding of FCMs and potential risks they represent; citizens’ preferences when it comes to trade-offs between safety-hygiene-sustainability; citizens’ behaviours and usage of FCMs and; citizens information needs, preferences, and proposals for what information they would like to receive and how, including alternative proposals to the current labelling scheme.

Published October 2023

Citizen engagement summary report

Citizen engagement final report

Study concerning information exchange, compliance and enforcement

The study will focus on developing different options to support an IT infrastructure required for information exchange and then assess the impacts of these options. The study will also develop options and assess the impacts of those options, for verifying compliance, controls and the role of the different actors.

Finished

Commission introduction to EY validation workshop on study in support of the revision of FCM legislation

Validation workshop agenda and EY presentation

Study on sustainability in the context of food contact materials

The study will define the understanding of sustainability when applied to FCMs, identify gaps and opportunities for increasing sustainable development, identify the sustainable products already on the market or under development, analyse the future market trends, identify policy measures that have the potential to increase the sustainability of FCM and characterise policy measures.

Ongoing 

Initiative on ceramic and vitreous FCMs

As part of the overall work revising rules on FCMs, the Commission is specifically assessing lowering migration limits for lead, cadmium and introducing limits for aluminium, arsenic, barium, cobalt, chromium and nickel from ceramic and vitreous food contact materials

Ceramic and vitreous food contact materials (FCMs) include tableware and kitchenware such as plates, cups, glasses, bowls or oven trays. Vitreous materials include glass, crystal and enamelled metals. Metals such as lead and cadmium are used for technical (e.g. give shine, durability) or decorative purposes (e.g. colours). Therefore, there is a risk these metals transfer into food from ceramic and vitreous FCMs.

In this context, EU legislation on FCM provides that materials in contact with food "shall neither adversely affect consumer health nor influence the quality of the food", and "shall be manufactured under good manufacturing practices".

The legislation also empowers the Commission to establish limits on the migration of chemicals from FCMs into food. Legislation on ceramic food contact materials – Directive 84/500/EEC – sets such limits for lead and cadmium and ensures the safety of ceramic table and kitchenware.

However, recent scientific evidence and enforcement data indicate that current exposure from those metals may be of concern and that those metals are sometimes released in significant amounts from both ceramic and vitreous FCMs.

Call for experts

Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) unit E2 is looking for individual experts to support policy developments on food contact materials (FCM) at EU level area, in particular on the revision of the EU FCM legislation.