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SAFEGUARDS | Consumer Products NO. 095/15

The Nordic Council has recently published a guidance document on food contact metals and alloys for authorities and industry. The guideline recommends applying the release values for 21 heavy metals from the Council of Europe Technical guide.

Food contact materials and articles destined for the European Union (EU) are governed by Regulation (EC) 1935/2004 [1]. Under Article 3(1) of this Framework Regulation, all food contact materials and articles must not transfer their constituents to food in quantities which could

  • Endanger human health or
  • Bring about unacceptable changes in the composition of the food or
  • Bring about a deterioration in the organoleptic characteristics of the food

In the absence of specific requirements for food contact metals and alloys, the Council of Europe published a new Technical guide in 2013, ‘Metals and alloys used in food contact materials and articles: A practical guide for manufacturers and regulators’ [2], with the intention to ensure these materials and products are safe and of a suitable quality. This new guideline also serves as a useful tool to assist national authorities in their policy decisions. The Technical guide recommends the release of 21 heavy metals to be restricted:

  • Aluminium, antimony, arsenic
  • Barium, beryllium
  • Cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper
  • Iron
  • Lead, lithium
  • Manganese, mercury, molybdenum
  • Nickel
  • Silver
  • Thallium, tin,
  • Vanadium and zinc

On 4 June 2015, the Nordic Council of Ministers published a guideline ‘Food contact materials – metals and alloys: Nordic guidance for authorities, industry and trade' [3] for food contact metals and alloys. The Nordic guideline hopes to create a call for uniform guidance and interpretations across Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It recommends the release values for the 21 heavy metals derived from the Council of Europe Technical guide and also provides an overview on toxicology, analytical feasibility and legislation to serve as a useful tool for authorities and industry.

Highlights on the release values from the Council of Europe Technical guide and the Nordic guideline are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1

Item

Metal

Requirement (Release, mg/kg)

 

Item

Metal

Requirement (Release, mg/kg)

1

Aluminium

≤ 5

 

12

Lithium

≤ 0.048

2

Antimony

≤ 0.04

 

13

Manganese

≤ 1.8

3

Arsenic

≤ 0.002

 

14

Mercury

≤ 0.003

4

Barium

≤ 1.2

 

15

Molybdenum

≤ 0.12

5

Beryllium

≤ 0.01

 

16

Nickel

≤ 0.14

6

Cadmium

≤ 0.005

 

17

Silver

≤ 0.08

7

Chromium

≤ 0.25

 

18

Thallium

≤ 0.0001

8

Cobalt

≤ 0.02

 

19

Tin

≤ 100

9

Copper

≤ 4

 

20

Vanadium

≤ 0.01

10

Iron

≤ 40

 

21

Zinc

≤ 5

11

Lead

≤ 0.01

 

 

 

 

Throughout our global network of laboratories, we are able to provide a range of services, including consultancy testing for the release of heavy metals in food contact materials and articles for the EU and international markets. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

For enquiries, please contact:

Hing Wo Tsang
Global Toys and Juvenile Products
t: +852 2774 7420

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