Exclusive Interview with Grant Kenion from Henkel Corporation

Ahead of this year's Global Food Contact conference in May, we spoke to Grant Kenion, Scientific Fellow of Henkel Corporation who'll be speaking about the FCN processes for food packaging adhesives.

Smither Pira: Why do you think it is important to attend the Global Food Contact conference in May?

Grant Kenion: Our industry has become very global, with many food brand owners and converters serving an international market. Existing jurisdictions change, and new jurisdictions are formed. We live in very dynamic times. A conference with a truly global list of presentations, and a global list of attendees, offers an excellent opportunity to stay current and to make or renew valuable contacts.

Smither Pira: What do you feel will be the most exciting developments in the Global Food Contact landscape in the next 5 years?

Grant Kenion: What I would LIKE to see would be a higher level of harmonization between jurisdictions, greater understanding and acceptance of risk based approaches, and science as the basis for regulatory reporting requirements at all levels of the value chain.

Smither Pira: What are the main challenges the GFC industry is facing and how do you think this conference can address them?

Grant Kenion: It will be a big challenge for the European community to keep an effective and harmonized food safety legislation in the face of Brexit. Hopefully the various regulatory principles will have additional chances to strengthen their ties by attending this meeting.

In the US, a change in administrations will likely result in decreased regulation. Typically the FDA has not been politicized, and it is my hope that it maintains the momentum of ever increasing knowledge of and appreciation for the FCN program. I hope to provide those who are not already using this program some additional appreciation for it.

Lastly, that dream that so many share and so few expect to be fully realized – finding harmony between systems. As systems continue to evolve, and we learn more about them and appreciate them through presentations and discussions at such venues as the Global Food Contact Forum, perhaps we all gain either continue to enhance our abilities to design products that meet multiple jurisdictions, or at some point have jurisdictions respecting a clearance from other jurisdictions (currently the exception rather than the rule).

Smither Pira: What are you most looking forward to hearing at the Global Food Contact EU conference in Rome?

Grant Kenion:  I have been out of Europe since August of  2011. The EU regulations are very dynamic, and I look forward to a refresher from experts. I also hope to gain a better understanding of the Chinese regulations, and also make sure that I am current with the Mercosur regulations in South America.

Smither Pira: Why should delegates attend the Global Food Contact conference and what are the top three over riding takeaways they will receive?

Grant Kenion: The Global Food Safety Forum gives responsible parties in the food safety community an opportunity to stay current with new regulations and emerging jurisdictions, network with other knowledgeable professionals, and to refresh their knowledge on jurisdictions for which they already have familiarity. Maintaining an up to date knowledge of jurisdictions pertinent to one’s responsibilities is an absolute must, and this conference is an excellent resource for meeting this personal goal.

Smither Pira: Can you provide a brief summary of what your presentation will cover?

Grant Kenion: My presentation would deal specifically with an approach in the US, the Food Contact Notification system, that regulates migration limits for food  safety not on an SML (specific migration limit) basis, but incorporates how likely something is to be in the diet, via a consumption factor. An FCN includes chemical, analytical, toxilogical, and environmental sections related to the substance to be cleared.

Certainly using this system to clear simple substances is nothing new, but there are not so many examples of a mixed, applied, and cured food packaging adhesive utilizing this system.

I will present the basic section types of information that we put together to make a successful submission, and will discuss benefits to our customer their customer, and to a supplier such as ourselves, versus other possibilities (such as GRAS, below the threshold of regulation, etc).

These benefits include the previously mentioned  thorough understanding of the chemistry, detailed extraction data, toxilogical data, environmental impact, etc,  in the hands of a neutral regulatory body, and subject to expert review. Additional benefits include acceptance of the data by some other jurisdictions, use of the analytical data for other regulatory needs (such as Safe Harbor calculations for Prop 65, or via modelling software for expanding coverage via an opinion, or in another jurisdiction).

It deals with transparency in a different way as well, by making the safety data (such as the extraction results) as well as the substance chemical name available either on an FDA website, or available by a Freedom of Information Act request. This is invaluable to those downstream of the converter, such as major food brands seeking to eliminate risk.  Stephen Klump of Nestle once described this system as the gold standard for food safety for food packaging adhesives.