European Commission (EC) publishes final report on consultation period concerning FCM policy revision; results feature citizens’ and stakeholder’s opinions on extent of FCM policy; Commission adoption planned for second quarter of 2023
In June 2023, the European Commission (EC) published the final report on the consultation for the revision of EU rules on food contact materials (FCMs) that took place from October 5, 2022 to January 11, 2023. The questionnaire included a section for consumers concerning all kinds of food contact articles, including food packaging, kitchenware, and cutlery, that required no prior knowledge of FCMs or FCM legislation. The stakeholder part focused on questions concerning businesses and their representatives, consumer organizations, scientific institutions, and those involved in compliance and enforcement of FCMs, which did require some background in the field of FCMs. The report summarizes the outcome of the consultation period and gives insights into categories and countries of origin of participants. A total of 610 feedback instances were received spread over 31 different countries.
Key responses from consumers
More than 90% of citizens either agreed or strongly agreed that substances that are endocrine disrupting, harmful to reproduction, or can cause cancer or damage genetic material should not be present in food contact materials. Consumers were also asked about their awareness of EU FCM legislation, the extent of what articles should be subject to safety rules, and the practicality and understanding of information and labeling on FCMs.
The final set of questions concerned the sustainability of FCMs. According to the report, 72% of consumers agreed that food safety is more important than recyclability or reusability of food packaging. Additionally, the majority of the surveyed are willing to bring their own packaging to the supermarket. Furthermore, 57% are willing to accept a 5% increase in price for more sustainable options.
Key responses from stakeholders
More than half of the business companies surveyed either disagreed or disagreed strongly that FCM legislation should address environmental concerns, while 94% of civil society organizations either agreed or strongly agreed. The stakeholder’s questionnaire also covered topics of how the risk assessment should be carried out (general versus specific) and what, in their opinion, the most appropriate intervention would be for different priority substance groups. Requirements to identify substances, traceability, labeling, and testing were generally supported by most stakeholders. Concerning sustainability, it was mostly agreed that FCM legislation should incentivize sustainable FCMs, however, businesses and business associations mostly disagreed with introducing requirements for sustainability and safety of FCMs.
In the roadmap published for this initiative, the EC states that adoption of the revised FCM regulation is planned for the second quarter of 2023 but this will likely be postponed to 2025 or potentially later, as reported by Chemical Watch.
The consultation was part of the EC’s ongoing Farm to Fork Strategy, originally published on May 20, 2022.
European Commission (June 2023). “Public consultation on the revision of EU rules on food contact materials (FCMs)”
European Commission (December 18, 2022). “Revision of EU rules on food contact materials.”
Luke Buxton (February 22, 2023). “Long wait expected for ‘complex’ EU FCM regulation revision proposal.” Chemical Watch