Plastics come into contact with food throughout the supply chain from conveyor belting and mixing vessels to bagging. To alleviate any public health concerns, the EU has issued Directive EU 10/2011 with which the European Plastics Distributors Association (EPDA) is asking its members to comply.

The new, all-encompassing legislation, which is binding in all member states, applies to food contact materials and articles and parts thereof consisting exclusively of plastics. This includes printed or coated plastic multi-layer materials and articles held together by adhesives, plastic layers or plastic coatings forming gaskets in caps and closures and plastic layers in multi-material multi-layer materials and articles.

This latest regulatory development to protect consumers from potential plastics’ contamination, has been welcomed by EPDA, whose members are involved in everything from plastic packaging to food contact components. Many members of EPDA have already been working to these higher exacting standards prior to the new legislation becoming legally enforceable.

Its members are investing significant time and money into making sure that their plastic products, destined for food production, are certified and fully compliant with all parts of the Directive which involves such things as migration testing, additional paperwork, training for employees, training for customers, redesigned brochures and certificates, and possible additional manpower.

The avoidance of production line stoppages and huge product recall costs, combined with protecting consumers’ health, is at the centre of plastics producers’ agenda. EPDA members are united in helping food processors to avoid all contamination by plastics of food products.

Quadrant, for example, has made substantial investments to ensure its “Food Grade” products have their own portfolio and are supplied with the ‘Declaration of Compliance’ according to the EU 10/2011 Directive.

Marketing Communications Coordinator at Quadrant EPP Europe, Petra Brinkmann commented: “High-performance plastics have taken over many important functions in modern food production and contribute significantly to economic and safe production. It is inevitable that these plastic components come into contact with food. Therefore, it is even more important that the plastic materials are safe with regard to their constituents and additives.”

The company believes that the introduction of Regulation EU 10/2011 is a major step in the right direction. It, together with raw material manufacturers, additive suppliers and food manufacturers, is constantly developing new materials to make food production even safer in the future.

Ensinger, meanwhile, has tested all of its products, regardless of end user, to match the standards laid down in the legislation. Focussing on making life in the supply chain more simple, a spokesperson at Ensinger said: “To make life easier, we have no special food grades, but tested all formulations for the selected materials from our regular stock program to avoid double inventory for us and our customers.”

Austrian member, Zell-Metall, which supplies engineered plastic stock shapes destined for the food industry, declared that even though its products were already classed as food grade materials before the Directive, it is now fully certified and compliant.

Thanks to the hard work of EPDA members and the significant investments made in light of the Directive, the European plastics industry can assure food processors, buying from certified European firms, of a safe supply of Food Grade plastic materials with excellent traceability and reliability. And, of course, consumers can relax to eat their food with confidence and added enjoyment.