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Guidance published to ensure food contact compliance in paper packaging

New guidance to help the recovered paper industry comply with European legislation on the safety of food contact paper packaging has been published in a bid to ensure that products meet appropriate quality standards.

The International Confederation of Paper and Board Converters in Europe (CITPA) and the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) presented the document Industry Guidance for the Compliance of Paper &Board Materials and Article for Food Contact. It is designed to establish compliance with Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004, which, in Article 3, ensures that products made from paper and board do not endanger human health or change or deteriorate the composition of food due to the naturally occurring minerals and added chemicals in the material.

But the report does not cover mineral oils, which are found in newspaper ink. They became an issue earlier this year when it was said they could potentially migrate into food if the paper was recycled  into packaging. In February this year, the BBC saw preliminary research by Swiss scientists who found that food had been contaminated by the cardboard cartons surrounding it.

The publication of the document is the first time all components needed to help manufacturers comply with EU legislation are included in one text. CEPI and CITPA hope the guidance will address the apparent lack of regulation across the paper and board sector.

Chair of the cross-industry group responsible for drafting the guidance John Swift said: “Safety of food is a pre-eminent concern. The paper and board manufacturing and converting sector recognises this concern and gives top priority to the safety and of the materials and articles it manufactures and supplies.”

The guidance asks manufacturers of recovered paper and board materials intended for food contact to formally declare compliance by reporting the grade description of the material, confirmation that the material has been responsibly sourced and information about the type of food the material will be used to package. Manufacturers will have to state whether there is an additive in the food which is also in the packaging, which may cause harmful substance levels to become present.

Material will be tested in accordance with substance limit levels laid out in the guidance. This will apply to recovered paper and board in particular because out of the 22 substances tested for, 16 are “generally found only in recovered paper and board” and not virgin materials.

The guideline is voluntary and expected to be used by markets potentially covering all EU member states.

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