Tue November 14, 2017

In 2014, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) initiated a public consultation to determine whether legally binding measures were needed to regulate chemical migration from packaging into food in products sold across the jurisdiction.  Until that time, manufacturers and importers of food packaging materials made their own safety determinations, utilizing voluntary standards and often relying upon prior clearance of these materials in the US and/or EU.

PLASTICS’ Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Packaging Materials Committee (FDCPMC) engaged with FSANZ throughout its work on Proposal P1034 from 2014 until 2017, explaining in two written submissions that food-contact materials are already regulated extensively throughout the world and that a new regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand would only further complicate global trade in food packaging materials without enhancing public health.  Additionally, the FDCPMC hosted Dr. Glenn Stanley of FSANZ at the 2015 and 2017 International Symposium on Worldwide Regulation of Food Packaging to provide further education on the extensive regulatory systems in place across the Americas, Europe, and Asia. 

FSANZ announced on October 12, 2017, that it will not recommend further regulatory action to control migration of chemicals from packaging to food.  In its Abandonment Report – Proposal P1034, FSANZ explains that in addition to two public consultations, a risk assessment utilizing a database of over 1300 food-contact substances found that exposures to most food-contact substances are low and unlikely to pose a risk to public health.  FSANZ drew the same conclusion from additional studies of phthalate plasticizers, mineral oil hydrocarbons, printing inks, and photoinitiators in foods sold across Australia and New Zealand.  FSANZ determined that sufficient measures are already in place to control chemical migration from packaging to food but that small-to-medium enterprises could benefit from further education. FSANZ plans to issue a food packaging information guide intended to serve as a comprehensive resource on food packaging safety for the packaging industry, food companies, and consumers.

PLASTICS’ FDCPMC commends FSANZ and celebrates this as a victory in the Committee’s long-time efforts to facilitate regulatory alignment across the world, reducing the cost for businesses to market innovative products globally while protecting public health.