Fera is the UK National Reference Laboratory for Materials and Articles in Contact with Food.
The term 'food contact material' describes any material that may come into contact with a foodstuff. The most obvious example is food packaging but the term also encompasses materials (and articles) used in food processing, transport, preparation and consumption.
These materials may be made from plastic, paper/board, rubber, metal, glass or ceramics, etc. Chemicals are needed to make these materials with their desirable properties. Any chemical constituents present have the potential to transfer to the foods with which they come into contact. In addition, the chemicals present in any adhesives, coatings or printing inks applied to these substrates also have the potential to transfer. This transfer is known as chemical migration. Chemical migration is defined as 'the mass transfer from an external source into food by sub-microscopic processes'.
European Union (EU) legislation on food contact materials and articles and its implementation in the United Kingdom specifies that food contact materials and articles should not transfer their constituents to food so as to endanger health or adversely affect the nature or quality of the food.
All products imported into the UK must comply with European Union (EU) law on contaminants.
The FSA has information on banned or restricted products such as Plastic kitchenware from China and Hong Kong under Regulation (EU) No. 284/2011 including First Points of Introduction (FPIs).
An explanatory note has been prepared and is regularly updated by the Food Standards Agency. It gives a general introduction to the EU harmonised legislation controlling food contact materials and articles, and describes its implementation in the United Kingdom. The FSA regularly issues guidance to food industry representatives and other stakeholders on a range of topics, often as a result of new regulations coming into force.
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