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Food for Thought
September 2021
Welcome to 'Food for Thought', a newsletter sharing key updates on food contact material (FCM) policy, ideas for revised FCM legislation and useful resources. There are thousands of chemicals in food contact materials that can potentially migrate into our food or drink, and many of these chemicals can harm our health and pollute the environment. This is why we need more protective regulation.
Infographic highlights the need to act on harmful chemicals in food contact materials

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Zero Waste Europe, the European Consumer Organisation BEUC, CHEM Trust and ClientEarth have collaborated to produce an infographic that busts some of the most popular myths surrounding chemicals used in food contact materials. 

The infographic illustrates how the chemicals used in the production, processing, preparation and packaging of food may put our health at risk. 

It calls for more protective EU regulations for chemicals in food contact materials, including asking policy makers to:

  1. Guarantee adequate safety data and assessments, and prohibit known substances of concern in all food contact materials. 
  2. Commit to a clean circular economy based on non-toxic material cycles. Including ensuring that primary and recycled food contact materials have the same level of safety. 
  3. Thoroughly assess, measure and control chemicals in food packaging. 
  4. Develop EU harmonised rules for all types of food contact materials, and effectively enforce these rules. 
  5. Improve transparency and traceability of chemicals throughout the supply chain and towards consumers.

Click here to download the infographic.

Report on food contact materials in the European healthcare sector

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe has released a publication ‘Sustainable food contact materials in the European healthcare sector’, focusing on the health and environmental issues linked to food contact materials in the healthcare sector.

It highlights that healthcare facilities are increasingly replacing single-use plastics in their food services with single-use paper or cardboard. However these materials can pose their own health and environmental risks: for example, they may be treated with harmful chemicals such as PFAS.

Health Care Without Harm highlights that the use of food contact materials that contain harmful chemicals in healthcare facilities is particularly concerning as some patients, such as infants, young children and pregnant women and their unborn children, can be particularly vulnerable to such harmful substances. 

The publication provides several examples of healthcare facilities that have taken action to switch to reusable food contact materials made from inert materials, such as glass and stainless steel, proving that moving to such alternatives can be possible in healthcare settings.

Read the publication for further information on food contact materials in healthcare, and Health Care Without Harm’s policy recommendations.

Five factsheets on food packaging and recycling

The Food Packaging Forum has published five factsheets summarising the applications, material properties, chemical safety, and end-of-life options for  the most common food packaging materials: plastic; paper and board; metal; glass; and multimaterial. The factsheets explain why and how material properties have an influence on the chemical safety as well as the recyclability.

Read more about the factsheets here.

EU Health Commissioner confirms revision of FCM legislation will address all types of FCMs
In a response to a European parliamentary question (from Members of EU Parliament Jutta Paulus and Sven Giegold (Greens-EFA)), the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Ms Kyriadkides confirmed that the FCM revision will "consider all types of FCMs, including paper, board and moulded fibre, and ensure greater coherence with other relevant legislation, including the regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)".
Register to attend the 2021 Food Packaging Forum workshop
The Food Packaging Forum’s 2021 workshop, ‘Different perspectives on food contact materials: Working together to make FCMs safer’, will take place online on 6th – 8th October 2021. The workshop will bring together a range of speakers from different areas of expertise to provide insights into the latest science and policy making, and to discuss how stakeholders are working together to make food contact materials safer for everyone.

Read more about the workshop and register to attend.

This newsletter is produced by a collaboration between CHEM Trust, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Zero Waste Europe (ZWE). Together, we are working towards creating a toxic-free environment where nobody should have to worry about the presence of health-harming chemicals in the products that come into contact with our food.

CHEM Trust is a charity based in Germany and the UK, with the overarching aim to prevent synthetic chemicals from causing long term damage to wildlife or humans, by ensuring that chemicals which cause such harm are substituted with safer alternatives. (EU Transparency number: 27053044762-72)

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is the leading not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects human health in the European Union (EU) and beyond. HEAL works to shape laws and policies that promote planetary and human health and protect those most affected by pollution, and raise awareness on the benefits of environmental action for health. (EU Transparency number: 00723343929-96)

Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) is the European network of communities, local leaders, experts, and change agents working towards the elimination of waste in our society. We advocate for sustainable systems and the redesign of our relationship with resources, to accelerate a just transition towards zero waste for the benefit of people and the planet. (EU Transparency number: 47806848200-34)
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