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Q&A with: Alejandro Ariosti, INTI-Argentina

In the lead up to Global Food Contact 2016, we interviewed Alejandro Ariosti, INTI-Argentina regarding the latest food contact developments in Latin America and MERCOSUR, what should be considered by companies new to Latin American markets and more.

Alejandro Ariosti, Materials for sanitary applications - Technical Assistance at INTI- Argentina is a Chemical Engineer (1981, National University of Buenos Aires) with two post-degrees: a Master on Food Science and Technology (1983, National University of Mar del Plata) and a Specialization on Plastics Conversion Technologies (2005, National University of San Martín).

He works at the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI) - Plastics Centre of Argentina since 1984, dealing with food packaging, materials interactions with foodstuffs, packaging and environment, and regulatory issues.

His tasks at the INTI - Plastics Centre began with tests and analysis at the lab, continued and evolved with research and development, technical assistance, management, technical training, and standards and regulations development. He has been Deputy of the Plastics Centre (1997-2002) and also its Director (2002-2007). Now he is mainly involved with senior technical assistance and training, cooperates with INTI´s human resources development program, and belongs to the Post-degrees Commission, dealing with scholarships and courses for the technical personnel.

He also teaches food packaging at public Universities (National University of Buenos Aires - Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry and National University of Luján), at the Argentine Catholic University, and at the Argentine Packaging Institute (IAE).

Since 2012 he is member of the Academic Commission of the Post-degree Specialization Course on Packaging (Agreement between the National University of Rosario and the IAE). He is coordinator of and Professor at several Modules of the post-degree course. He is also Professor of the IAE Technical Packaging Course since 1987.

Since 1991 he represents INTI at the MERCOSUR Food Packaging Group, which developed the block regulations on different food contact materials, and since 1984 at the Argentine Institute of Standardization and Certification (IRAM).

Read Alejandro Ariosti's full profile here >>

Smithers: You are a regular speaker for us at Global Food Contact, how do you see the event has changed and developed over the last few years and what are you looking forward about the 2016 edition?

Alejandro Ariosti: In the past few years, the Global Food Contact conference has increasingly incorporated subjects related to the FCMs regulatory situations in different jurisdictions, for instance, China and other countries in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, India, Africa, the Middle East, etc. At the same time, it has given continuity to the important task of addressing specific sanitary and technical issues of vital interest in the US and Europe. Also we have had the opportunity to share novel experiences with different speakers from companies such as stakeholders that belong to the whole supply chain.

Attending Global Food Contact 2016 will give delegates an opportunity to improve their understanding of the regulations presently in force in the US, EU, Canada, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific, and other potential markets.

From the 2016 agenda, and amongst the main topics of interest for the attendants, I can mention:

  • updates of the different FCMs regulations
  • US FDA FCN system and the Foreign Supplier Verification Programme
  • news on special FCMs: nanomaterials, adhesives, multilayers structures and NIAS (non intentionally added substances)
  • points of view of the raw materials suppliers,  packaging converters, brand owners, retailers, etc.

I shall be glad to accompany the delegates and speakers, to network with them and exchange experiences.  I´m looking forward to meeting a very large concurrence to interact with; and as always, it will be a great opportunity to meet old friends and to make new ones.

Smithers: What are the latest and most significant developments in food contact regulations in MERCOSUR?

Alejandro Ariosti: In December 2015 three MERCOSUR Resolutions on food contact cellulosic materials were sanctioned. They are based on the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment  (BfR) Recommendations, and establish requisites for cellulosic materials in general (including recycled fibers), cellulosic materials for hot filtration and cooking, and cellulosic materials for cooking in oven (GMC Resolutions 40/15, 41/15 and 42/15, respectively).

During 2016 the MERCOSUR Packaging Group is reviewing GMC Resolution 32/07 on additives for food contact plastics, and the international references are the US FDA and the EU regulations.

Smithers: This year we will be looking at the future of regulations, how do you forecast future regulations in Latin America taking shape?

Alejandro Ariosti: It has been discussed at an international level that in the next few years the main jurisdictions (e.g. EU, US-FDA) might adopt a mutual recognition system, based on the principle of equivalence of their FCMs regulations. Eventually in the long-term, common recommendations on the lines of the Codex Alimentarius standards might be established, that could be adopted by the different countries and blocks as their regulations. This would be an excellent opportunity not only for the Latin American countries that lack FCMs regulations, in order to adopt them and not to develop diverging regulations; and also for those countries that having legislation, could begin an adaptation process, not from zero, but from certain bases such as the main international references.

Smithers: What advice do you have for any attendees who are new to the Latin American market, what are their key regulatory considerations if they are launching products in this market?

Alejandro Ariosti: In Latin America, extending from Baja California to Tierra del Fuego, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and the South Atlantic Ocean, and with so many countries, the FCMs regulatory situation is very diverse. The majority of the countries are integrated into or associated to blocks, for instance, the MERCOSUR and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), both  in South America; the Central American System of Integration (SICA); the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); and the NAFTA in North America, to which Mexico belongs. The MERCOSUR is the only block that has harmonized FCMs regulations. Colombia, which belongs to the CAN, has an interesting set of FCMs national regulations.

So companies intending to launch products in a particular Latin American country should perform a previous study of the regulations (or mandatory standards in some cases) in force in the country or the block to which it belongs. Some of these countries may not have any national legislation or mandatory standard on FCMs, but can accept products cleared by the EU, the US-FDA or the MERCOSUR, or other jurisdictions. Besides, it is necessary to identify the sanitary authority of competence, if there exists a pre-market approval system, or a mutual recognition principle. Generally, companies work altogether with consultants and importers, who can manage the national procedures in detail.

Smithers: What can other regional markets learn and apply from Mercosur legislation?

Alejandro Ariosti: When consulted, we encourage officials and industry professionals of other regional blocks or countries to work together in the development of their emerging regulations, taking into account international references (e.g. EU, MERCOSUR, US-FDA). This is fundamental in order to protect public health, to improve the sanitary and sensory quality of packaged foods, and not to interfere with international trade. In the case of MERCOSUR, we try to develop an eclectic legislation, taking into account elements from our two main international references, both the US-FDA and the EU legislations. 

View the Global Food Contact 2016 full conference program >>

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