Over the years, the regulation of inks and other food contact materials in Europe has been relatively out of line. Ink manufacturers can now solve problems in a more coordinated manner.
However, due to the migration of chemicals in printing inks, when assessing and managing the risk of packaged food contamination, it is first necessary to address some uncertainties.
The executive body of the European Commission is located in Brussels, which is responsible for drafting EU regulations and is approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers representing the governments of member states. The committee announced that it is proposing new regulations on food contact materials, aiming at the first time to harmonize the regulations of food packaging inks used by EU countries.
German printing ink regulations
After the German government issued the latest draft decree on printing inks for food contact materials, the committee followed suit. The draft has been evaluated by the Commission and other EU member states. The above process was completed using a two-year system. According to this system, it is imperative that the new technical regulations of all countries be evaluated within the EU to ensure that they comply with EU law and do not harm the EU's single market.
At least eight member states expressed concern about the German decree, mainly because the decree established a series of national regulations for inks and varnishes used in food packaging, which would disrupt the EU's internal market.
In the past eight years, only the national ordinance promulgated by Switzerland has made specific restrictions on the migration of printing inks in food packaging. And the country is not even a member of the EU. Although the Act is only mandatory in Switzerland, it has been implemented as a voluntary standard throughout Europe.
Owners of international food brands have found that specific migration thresholds (eg, unassessed substances) in important standards can only be used for packaging if the food detection limit of 0.01 μg/kg food does not appear to migrate to food.
At present, the strictness of regulations increases with stricter control measures. For example, carcinogenic, mutagenic and reproductive toxic substances (CMR) used in food packaging printing inks.
With the support of EU member states, the European Commission rejected the claim that the EU should adopt mandatory migration limits for food packaging inks and adopt other ink-related legal controls. The entire ink industry has been calling for the replacement of Swiss regulations with EU regulations.
The Commission believes that the EU's current legislation on plastic substrates for food contact materials and another regulation on good manufacturing practices for food packaging materials (GMP) are sufficient, even if the two regulations do not include any measures related to ink.
Therefore, the European Commission’s pressure to develop legislative measures in the ink industry has been increasing. This is because the German Printing Ink Act will not only become a national ordinance, but once implemented, it will become another pan-European standard and compete with Swiss regulations.
The European Parliament passed a resolution last fall that the European Commission “should give priority to the formulation of specific measures for paper and paperboard, varnishes and coatings, metals and alloys, printing inks and adhesives” for food contact materials.
The European Parliament has called for a focus on food contact materials, which have a high risk of migrating, whether directly or indirectly, foods that contain liquids and high-fat foods, and materials that have long-term contact with food.
In addition to the printing ink industry, other industries in the packaging supply chain are also concerned about the EU's lack of specific and detailed legislative controls.
Martin Kaner, executive director of the European Union Printing Ink Association (EuPIA), said: “The committee said that it should make a difference. We have always wanted to be harmonized with regulations. We are most concerned that putting together regulations on the relocation of food packaging will make The situation is getting worse."