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Exclusive interview with Alejandro Ariosti of INTI - Plastics Centre, Argentina

Ahead of his presentation at this year's Global Food Contact conference in Lisbon, we spoke to Professor Alejandro Ariosti, Sanitary Application Materials - Technical Assistance at the INTI - Plastics Centre in Argentina, to get his insights into FCM industry challenges, important industry issues and more.

Q. What do you see as the biggest challenges the industry is facing at the moment?

There are several challenges companies that manufacture or use FCMs are facing, but I shall just mention the two I think are paramount:

1. The existence of a myriad of regulations on some materials that are not recognised amongst jurisdictions worldwide; and on the contrary, the lack of regulations on several other FCMs. (For instance, 4 harmonised FCMs vs. 13 non-harmonised FCMs just in the EU).

2. Problems of information transmission along the value chain between different stakeholders.

Q. What topics relating to Global Food Contact are of interest to you at the moment and why?

The topics addressed at the GFC that are of interest to me are:

  • Updates of the different food contact materials (FCMs) regulations, with emphasis on the EU and US-FDA ones, as they are the international references for the MERCOSUR regulations on FCMs, and also those of potential new markets for Latin American countries (e.g. China, India);
  • News on novel FCMs: nanomaterials, active FCMs, new functional barriers, etc., as they constitute interesting technological innovations, but may pose analytical and safety challenges;
  • Challenges in identifying and assessing non-intentionally added substances (NIAS);
  • Updates on plastics and paper recycling, because of their economic significance in MERCOSUR and other Latin American countries;
  • Points of view of the raw materials suppliers,  packaging converters, brand owners, retailers, NGOs, etc., as multi-stakeholders discussions and transparency are values of increasing importance in policy-making.

Q. What are you discussing at Global Food Contact this year?

  • In my presentation “The challenges of FCMs regulations global harmonization – Panorama in the MERCOSUR and other South American countries”, I shall address the following issues:
  • The different economic blocks into which Latin American and Caribbean countries are integrated, are going to be presented (CAN, CARICOM, MERCOSUR and SICA).
  • In Latin America, FCMs sanitary requirements are included in official regulations and voluntary or mandatory standards.
  • The regulatory situation in different countries is diverse, according to the realities of each one of them:
    • MERCOSUR Resolutions appear as the most advanced of those regulations in Latin America (they are based on the EU and US-FDA regulations, which are taken as main international references).
    • There are countries that are working to approach their emerging regulations to the EU, MERCOSUR and US-FDA regulations, and approve or accept FCMs that comply with these Regulations.
    • Some countries do not have or have very incipient emerging regulations.
  • The regulatory situation of post-consumer recycled PET in MERCOSUR is going to be updated.

Bullet points

  • General scenario in South America (MERCOSUR, CAN, Colombia)
  • MERCOSUR FCMs Legislation compared with the US-FDA, EU, Japan and China
  • MERCOSUR last updates and the plastics additives regulation review (2018)
  • Differences between the Argentine and Brazilian pre-market approval systems of final FCMs
  • How companies can include new food contact substances in the MERCOSUR positive lists
  • Status of recycled post-consumer PET (PCR-PET) in South America
  • Activities of the Global Harmonization Initiative (GHI)

Q. Are there any sessions within the agenda that you are particularly interested in attending? 

The GFC 2019 programme is extremely interesting and well designed, and has a nice balance of subjects.The selected speakers are experts in their fields, as in all the previous editions.

The Workshop and all the Conference sessions are very important for the attendees, and I recommend attending all of them. In particular I am interested in:

  • The Workshop on NIAS, which will shed light on this complicated and challenging issue;
  • Sessions 1 (EU) and 2 (US-FDA) are of paramount interest for us, regulators from MERCOSUR, as the EU and the US-FDA FCMs regulations are our international references;
  • Session 4 has interesting presentations on the significance on recycling food contact plastics and paper, and the challenges it implies;
  • Session 5, 6 and 7 are of great importance for the Latin American countries due to new potential markets as China and India, and for the discussion on regulations worldwide;
  • Sessions 8 and 9 are of great scientific and technical significance.

Of course I shall follow all the presentations attentively with the objective of updating information and getting a feedback for our regulatory and technical assistance activities. I think all the attendees will be satisfied with the event.

Prof. Ariosti will be presenting on 'MERCOSUR and Latin America' as part of the FCM Regulation: Latin America session on Day 2 of Global Food Contact. The event will cover worldwide FCM regulations, with other presentations including:

  • Regulating food contact materials in Europe: A member state perspective - Bernard Hegarty, Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSA)
  • The absence of harmonised food contact legislations: Challenges for the industry - Charlotte Bedford, Ball Packaging Europe
  • Federal and State FCMs regulations in the USA: Updates and developments from the FDA - U.S. FDA
  • China: Food contact regulations, clarification and practical guidelines - 3E Research
  • Food contact regulations in Japan - Decernis
  • Food contact regulations in India - The Kraft Heinz Company

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