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The US state of Maine has implemented measures to regulate toxic chemicals in food packaging. The prohibition of phthalates will become effective on January 1, 2022.

SAFEGUARDS | Consumer Products NO. 089/19

Jellies

On June 13, 2019, the governor of the US state of Maine signed the L.D. 1433 bill (HP 1043, Chapter 277, 129th Legislature, 2019) into law to amend Title 32 of the Maine Revised Statutes (32 MRS ‘Professions and Occupations’).

This amendment, ‘An Act to Protect the Environment and Public Health by Further Reducing Toxic Chemicals in Packaging’ (the Act), contains two important changes:

  • Revising Chapter 26-A ‘Reduction of Toxics in Packaging by including, inter alia, the following:
    • Expanding the scope of restriction of four heavy metals (≤ 100 ppm for the sum of lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium (VI)) in packages, to the prohibition of phthalates in food packages
    • Authorizing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to prohibit perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS chemicals) in food packages by rule if safer alternatives have been determined to be available
    • Completely new definition for ‘food package’ – a package that is designed to be in direct contact with food, including a food or beverage product that is contained in a food package or to which a food package is applied, a packaging component of a food package and plastic disposable gloves used in commercial or institutional food service
    • Amending the definition of ‘incidental presence’ – the presence of a regulated metal or other regulated chemical as an unintended or undesired ingredient of a package or packaging component
    • Exempting certain food or beverage product manufacturers from the prohibition of phthalates and PFAS chemicals
    • Requiring manufacturers subject to the prohibition of phthalates and PFAS chemicals in food packages to develop a certificate of compliance (CoC)
  • Adding completely new Chapter 26-B ‘Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging’ by including, among other things, the following:
    • Directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to publish a list of no more than 10 food contact chemicals of high concern (FCCHCs)
    • Directing the Commissioner of Environmental Protection (CEP) to evaluate the FCCHC list at least every three years and a maximum of 10 FCCHCs may be added per evaluation
    • Authorizing the CEP to designate an FCCHC as a priority food contact chemical (PFCC) for reporting purposes
    • Requiring manufacturers or distributors of food packages containing a PFCC to report to the DEP if a PFCC is intentionally added and is greater than the practical quantification limit (PQL) or as a contaminant that is greater than 100 ppm (de minis level)
    • Expanding the Board of Environmental Protection’s (BEP’s) authority to adopt rules for the prohibition of food packages containing a PFCC that requires reporting if safer alternatives are available. By rule adoption, the date of prohibition must be at least two years after notice of the proposed rule
    • Requiring manufacturers or distributors of food packages containing a PFCC subject to the prohibition to file a compliance plan with the CEP, or seek a waiver for specific uses, within 180 days of the prohibition

Highlights of the Act on certain revisions to Chapter 26-A ‘Reduction of Toxics in Packaging’ under 32 MRS are summarized in Table 1.

Maine, LD 1433 (HP 1043, Chapter 277, 129th Legislature, 2019)
‘An Act to Protect the Environment and Public health by Further Reducing Toxic Chemicals in Packaging’ in relation to 32 MRS Chapter 26-A ‘Reduction of Toxics in Packaging’

Substance Scope Requirement Effective Date

Phthalates
Food packages, including disposable plastic food service gloves
Prohibited unless presence is incidental*
January 1, 2022
PFAS chemicals
Prohibited unless presence is incidental*
January 1, 2022**

*Exempt if total annual national sales of food and beverage products is < $ 1,000,000,000 for manufacturers of a food or beverage product that is contained in a food package or to which a food package is applied

**Prohibition by rule, and January 1, 2022 only becomes operative if safer alternatives are available, otherwise two years from date on which DEP determines a safer alternative is available, whichever is later

Table 1

SGS technical experts have extensive knowledge and testing experience in materials and articles in contact with food. They work to ensure that your products meet the appropriate regulations for food contact materials and pave the way for compliance. From overall migration testing to expert advice on emerging regulations and compliance issues as well as documentation reviews, SGS is the partner to trust. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information or visit our website.

Next step

Stakeholders are advised to comply with the latest requirements in food packaging for the US state of Maine.

For enquiries, please contact:

Hingwo Tsang
Global Information and Innovation Manager
t: (+852) 2774 7420

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