Food comes into contact with many materials and articles during its production, processing, storage, preparation and serving, before its eventual consumption. Such materials and articles are called Food Contact Materials (FCMs). Food contact materials are either intended to be brought into contact with food, are already in contact with food, or can reasonably be brought into contact with food or transfer their constituents to the food under normal or foreseeable use. This includes direct or indirect contact. Examples include:
- containers for transporting food
- machinery to process food
- packaging materials
- kitchenware and tableware
FCMs should be sufficiently inert so that their constituents neither adversely affect consumer health nor influence the quality of the food. To ensure the safety of FCMs, and to facilitate the free movement of goods, EU law provides for binding rules that business operators must comply with.
The EU Rules on food contact materials can be of general scope, i.e. apply to all FCMs or apply to specific materials only. EU law may be complemented with Member States national legislation if specific EU rules do not exist.
The safety of FCM is evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). At EFSA's website you can search for opinions on substances to be used in food contact materials.
This is the responsibility of the business operator to place safe food contact material on the market. Scientific knowledge and technical competence on testing methods is being maintained by the European Reference Laboratory for Food Contact Materials (EURL-FCM). Its website provides guidelines and other resources concerning the testing of food contact materials.
Framework legislation: 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
Regulation on Good Manufacturing Practices: Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006 of 22 December 2006 on good manufacturing practice for materials and articles intended to come into contact with food
Framework legislation: Royal Decree of 11 May 1992 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food
Active and intelligent materials: Regulation (EC) No 450/2009 of 29 May 2009 on active and intelligent materials and articles intended to come into contact with food
Ceramics: Council Directive 84/500/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to ceramic articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs (84/500/EEC)
Plastic materials: Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 of 14 January 2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food
Recycled plastic materials: Regulation (EC) 282/2008 of 27 March 2008 on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foods and amending Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006
Regenerated cellulose film: Commission Directive 2007/42/EC of 29 June 2007 relating to materials and articles made of regenerated cellulose film intended to come into contact with foodstuffs
Ceramics: Royal Decree of 1 May 2006 on a declaration of compliance and performance criteria for the analysis method for ceramic articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs
Regenerated cellulose film: Royal Decree of 23 November 2004 relating to materials and articles made of regenerated cellulose film intended to come into contact with foodstuffs
Varnishes and coatings: Royal Decree of 25 September 2016 on varnishes and coatings intended to come into contact with foodstuffs
Bisphenol A: Regulation (EU) No 2018/213 of 12 February 2018 on the use of bisphenol A in varnishes and coatings intended to come into contact with food and amending Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 as regards the use of that substance in plastic food contact materials
Epoxy derivatives: Regulation (EC) No 1895/2005 of 18 November 2005 on the restriction of use of certain epoxy derivatives in materials and articles intended to come into contact with food
Elastomer or rubber teats and soothers: Commission Directive 93/11/EEC of 15 March 1993 concerning the release of the N-nitrosamines and N-nitrosatable substances from elastomer or rubber teats and soothers
Products originating or consigned from China or Hong Kong: Regulation (EU) No 284/2011 of 22 March 2011 laying down specific conditions and detailed procedures for the import of polyamide and melamine plastic kitchenware originating in or consigned from the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
More details on the Belgian legislation
Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment
- Norms for the packaging and contact materials
- Declaration of compliance
- Good Manufacturing Practices