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 and were intended for that purpose, or can reasonably be expected to be brought into contact with food or to transfer their constituents to food under normal or foreseeable conditions of use. Food’s contact with FCMs can be direct and indirect. Examples of FCMs 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 are of general scope, i.e. apply to all FCMs or are specific to certain materials. EU laws may be completed by Member States national provisions if specific EU rules do not exist.
The FCM’s safety is assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA and you can search for their opinions on substances to be used in food contact materials on their website.
It’s the business operator’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the food contact material placed on the market. The European Reference Laboratory for Food Contact Materials (EURL-FCM) provides scientific and technical assistance to the EU and the Member States throughout guidelines made available on their website.
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: Commission Regulation (EU) No 2022/1616 on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come with foods
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
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
Coordinated control plan: Commission recommendation (EU) 2019/794 of 15 May 2019 on a coordinated control plan with a view to establishing the prevalence of certain substances migrating from materials and articles intended to come into contact with food
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