Industry concern as EU confirms authorisation scheme for active and intelligent packaging

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Food safety, European food safety authority

The European Commission has adopted a regulation on active and intelligent packaging that confirms it is to introduce an authorisation scheme for substances used in food packing.

The body said that any material used for active and intelligent functions in food contact materials will require a safety evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The announcement follows the completion of a consultation exercise from the EU food safety watchdog earlier in the year.

Dossier stipulations

While the adopted regulation has not yet been published, its draft form stipulated that packaging manufacturers would be obliged to submit technical dossiers for each substance outlining a range of detailed information including the manufacturing process of the active or intelligent substance, any existing authorizations as well as migration and toxicological data.

EFSA said a community list of approved substances would be established following the risk assessment procedure. However, the body cautioned: “In some cases, restrictions may be proposed by EFSA on a group of substances especially when the active or intelligent function implies interactions between different substances.”

Bureaucracy and cost worries

However, the UK Packaging Federation has raised concerns over the added bureaucracy and cost to companies the new regulation is likely to bring.

Dick Searle, the group’s chief executive told “This is just another layer of bureaucracy and we wonder if we need another regulation when there is nothing new about active and intelligent packaging.

“This seems excessive bureaucracy that will be very expensive for many and legislation that will favour larger companies that can afford it.”

Active packaging involves an interaction between pack and food product to extend the shelf life of the product, while intelligent pack monitors the quality and/or safety of a food product, providing an indication that can be helpful in the distribution chain, such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and sensors.

The global market for active, controlled and intelligent packaging is expected to grow 6.9 per cent a year until 2013, according to a report by BCC Research. The report - Active, Controlled, and Intelligent Packaging for Foods and Beverages - says the industry, worth US$16.9bn in 2008, will increase to US$23.6bn by 2013.

An EC statement said: “A single market will be created for the use of active and intelligent packaging by laying down criteria which ensure their safety while allowing for a competitive position of this new type of packaging

“The proposed Regulation will introduce specific labelling rules and will require the business operator to issue a declaration of compliance so that an adequate information flow on their safe use is ensured throughout the business chain.”

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