NRL for Materials & Articles in Contact with Food

Fera is the UK National Reference Laboratory for Materials and Articles in Contact with Food. Fera acts as National Reference Laboratory under Regulation (EU) 2017/625.

NRL for Materials & Articles in Contact with Food

Our work involves targeted and non targeted analysis of known and unknown migrants. Analysis can be carried out in complex matrices (foods, food simulants and food contact materials and articles) utilising a range of advanced chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques including headspace gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (HS-GC-MS), liquid injection GC-MS, GC- time of flight (TOF) - MS, liquid chromatography with high resolution mass spectrometry detection (LC-TOF-MS), inductively charged plasam (ICP)-MS.




Find out more about the Thomson Suite.

One of the largest facilities of its kind in the UK. It is a bespoke laboratory running to GLP quality standards that houses 30 state-of-the-art mass spectrometry instruments.




Missed Dr Malcolm Driffield speaking at the 7th International Fresenius Conference?

Dr Malcolm Driffield was part of the programme of speakers sharing learnings on 'Migration from non-harmonised Food Contact Materials', Malcolm's presentation discusses the use of solvents, food simulants and foodstuffs in analysis to measure migration of intentionally added substances (IAS) and non-intentionally added substances (NIAS), comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of each, using a number of real case studies involving can coatings. Malcolm leads a team involved in food contact materials (FCMs) and migration here at Fera. He has a background in targeted and non-targeted analysis of substances found in, and migrating from, food packaging and food contact materials with over 15 years experience.




Oils Close Up 1

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. Many different ingredients are used during the manufacture of FCM's to ensure the final product has the desired chemical and physical 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.

EU Regulation - Food Contact Materials

EURL Guidance Documents

  • Applicability of generally recognised diffusion models for the estimation of specific migration in support of EU Directive 2002/72/EC
  • Guidelines on testing conditions for articles in contact with foodstuffs (with a focus on kitchenware)
  • Guidelines for performance criteria and validation procedures of analytical methods used in controls of food contact materials
  • Guideline on testing migration of primary aromatic amines from polyamide utensils and for formaldehyde from melamine-based kitchenware in support of a future Regulation on imports from China and Hong-Kong

The FSA Food Contact Materials Unit

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).

Food Guidance
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.

Strawberries Close Up




Food Contact Materials Testing

Food contact materials testing is used worldwide to make sure that food is not contaminated by any of the products it comes into contact with.




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