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What can the rest of the world learn from the latest EU legislation?

Ahead of this year’s Global Food Contact event, we caught up with Food Contact Compliance expert, Alistair Irvine, to discuss the current market status and what the rest of the world can learn from the latest European legislation.

Alistair Irvine has over 20 years’ experience in the food contact sector and manages the Food Packaging Safety Section within Smithers. This involves advising clients on the safety legislation which applies to food packaging throughout the world and coordinating work programmes to ensure that clients' products meet these requirements.

"We are seeing quite a lot of enquiries at the moment driven by the changes in the testing requirements under EU Regulation 10/2011. These fully came into effect on 1 January 2016 and although they were flagged up 5 years in advance, the final phase in date has had a clear impact.”

Alistair has some valuable advice for Non-EU countries, which to some extent are basing their own regulations on the European rules.

“If I was working through this process, I would give some thought to how the issue of NIAS could be tackled in a more tractable manner than we have so far been able to do in Europe.”

Europe is perceived to be a challenging and complex region for regulatory compliance and Alistair offers guidance for North American companies entering the European market. “There is simplicity at one level in the EU, whereby there is only a single regulation which covers all classes of plastic.  However, the price that is paid for simplicity at that level is that the regulation doesn’t fit individual plastics quite as well as some of the individual FDA rules.  Also, the FDA’s approach of risk assessing degradation products during the authorisation stage has meant that they haven’t felt obliged to regulate for non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) in the same way that the European Regulator has.  This clearly simplifies matters for industry in the USA.”

New packaging technologies will also introduce imminent regulatory challenges across the globe. “Radical new packaging ideas such as Active and Intelligent materials will always be pushing at the edges of the regulations, but if pushed, I would guess that these will remain niche technologies. When we think about more mainstream packaging formats, I believe the coming years will have a lot of focus on alternatives to BPA and I think there will be a lot of continuing regulatory activity in this area."

This year’s Global Food Contact Event will provide delegates with the most relevant food contact developments and will feature presentations from national regulators from across the globe. “I’m going to be particularly interested this year to hear about the ongoing progress in China where the ‘clean-up’ process for GB9685 is beginning to bear fruit and also to hear how the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (which is part of the Food Safety Modernisation Act) is bedding down in the USA.”

Alistair is regular speaker for Smithers Pira at the Global Food Contact annual event and believes the conference is continuing to develop alongside regulation advancements. “What has certainly become obvious over recent years is the growing breadth and depth of food contact regulations across the globe which has increased greatly since the Global Food Contact conference started and is reflected in the content of the event.” 

Join Alistair Irvine and other industry leaders from across the food contact market at this year’s Global Food Contact event, as we gather to explore and exchange information regarding food contact developments and initiatives, and forecast the future industry landscape. Find out more here >>