Keller and Heckman LLP Interview

As part of Plastics and Paper in Contact with Foodstuffs you can extend your learnings by attending our pre-conference workshop on ‘Establishing Food-Contact Compliance in the European Union, the United States and China: The Challenges and Comparisons between the Jurisdictions from a Practical Perspective’. 

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We caught up with Hazel O’Keefe, workshop speaker and Partner at Keller and Heckman LLP for a short interview about the workshop, food contact compliance challenges in the EU, methods on staying industry compliant and more.

You will take part of the pre-conference workshop; could you please give us a quick overview of what we will hear from you during this session?

The pre-conference workshop will focus on the similarities and differences between the regulatory requirements applicable to food-contact plastics and paper in the EU, the U.S. and China.  We will delve into the approaches that can be used to achieve food-contact compliance in all three jurisdictions.  We will also focus on migration and toxicity data requirements, which are particularly important to keep in mind when tailoring testing to cover more than one of these jurisdictions.  Knowledge of the distinct regulatory regimes will help business operators to avoid the pitfalls, and facilitate access to all three markets.


What do you consider to be one of the biggest challenges about establishing food-contact compliance in the European Union?

Business operators are faced with numerous challenges when establishing food-contact compliance in the European Union.  The safety assessment of non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) is frequently one of the main hurdles to overcome in compliance evaluations of food-contact materials and articles.  In the non-harmonized areas, such as paper and paperboard, industry has to contend with divergent, and sometimes even contradictory, Member State requirements and the ensuing customer queries regarding the legal status of their products.  In largely harmonized areas, such as plastics, the very significant time needed to have a new monomer or additive included in a positive list can impact innovation.   However, more generally, I think that one of the main challenges with ensuring that food contact materials remain compliant with EU requirements throughout their lifetime is that it is often not sufficient to simply ensure food-contact compliance, but business operators may also need to consider legislation on biocides and other chemicals which may prohibit or restrict the use of certain food contact substances.  The significant impact of the circular economy initiatives/waste legislation on food contact materials has also been brought even more into focus this year with the publication of the Single Use Plastics Directive. 


How can the industry stay compliant with the latest food contact regulations and best practice?

Keeping up to date with the developments in the food contact field and related areas in the EU, EU Member States, and other jurisdictions such as the U.S., China and Japan is critical particularly for those companies operating in a global marketplace.  It enables business operator to take initiatives in a cost effective manner, notably, to adapt their food contact materials in time to ensure continued compliance with the applicable requirements.


Why is this international conference relevant to the industry right now?

Attending this international conference is a very effective way for industry to learn more about the latest hot topics impacting the food contact sector and to interact with European Commission and Member State officials, trade association representatives and other legal and scientific experts that can provide unique insights into the ongoing challenges that industry is facing.  It is particularly relevant right now due to the rapidly changing regulatory landscapes in the EU and further af