The EFSA scientific cooperation (ESCO) working group has been formed in response a number of episodes in the last few years involving the migration of non-plastic contact materials into food - particularly chemicals in printing inks such as ITX, 4-methylbenzophenone and benzophenone said the body. The most high profile of these related to the tainting of breakfast cereal after packaging ink 4-methylbenzophenone leached into the food. The incidents prompted a Europe-wide investigation.
The main priorities of the ESCO panel are likely to include printing inks and paper/cardboard used in packaging, an EFSA spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com.
The food safety watchdog said that at present there are no specific regulations for non-plastic food contact substances.
“Whilst EU rules specify that all materials coming into contact with foods must be safe, many non-plastic components of food contact materials - unlike plastic materials - are not subject to specific provisions at the European level”, said an EFSA statement.
The group has been tasked to identify strength and weaknesses of different approaches used for risk assessment, propose criteria for future safety evaluations and table recommendations for future action. It will also collect information and identify expertise which is available in the EU Member States on the appraisal of substances used in non-plastic food contact materials.
“The aim of this project is to gather information and experience on the safety assessment of substances which are used in non-plastic food contact materials in order to help inform future discussions on this issue at the EU level”, said the EFSA spokesman.
The panel held its first meeting on 17 February in Parma and is scheduled to present a report to EFSA’s executive director by the end of March 2011. Last week, the initial discussions centred on the priorities for future evaluations, as well as building on existing assessments which have already been carried out in different member states or by the Council of Europe.
The working group was created following discussions at EFSA’s Advisory Forum, consisting of representatives of national food safety authorities.