Ram Singhal, FPA Vice President for Technology and Environment, attended a two day Global Food Contact Conference hosted by Smithers Pira on May 13-14, 2014. Approximately 140 international converters, suppliers, regulators and packaging customers assembled for the conference held in Silver Spring, MD. Sixteen presentations focused on global food contact regulations and how food contact materials are evaluated for safety in North America, Europe and Asia.

The US FDA has a very robust regulatory program for safety assessment of food contact substances, and many countries are using this framework to develop their regulations. The Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 established the Food Contact Notification (FCN) system to authorize the safe use of food contact substances. FDA receives approximately 100 FCNs a year and must complete the acceptance review of each within 120 days of submission. The Agency offers pre-notification consultation to notifiers which may include written and oral correspondence as well as meetings.

In EU, the purpose of food contact substances approval is largely the same as in the United States.  It requires that materials and articles, under their normal conditions of use, do not transfer constituents to food at a level that may produce an unacceptable change in the composition of food, or endanger human health, or bring about deterioration in taste and odor.  The supporting information that is required for declaration of compliance in the supply chain is provided in EU Regulation 10/2011.

The compliance regulations for Food Contact substances vary from country to country. In Canada, Mexico and other countries, FDA status is likely to be adequate. The countries where FDA compliance is not sufficient are EU Member States, China, India and Japan, and countries which follow the EU.

The conference concluded with an excellent panel discussion on supply-chain issues that included material suppliers, regulatory professionals and customers.