Consultation on proposed limits for release of metals from ceramics into food

An informal consultation has been launched to gather views from people making, retailing or trading ceramic or glass objects intended to come into contact with foodstuffs.

The consultation is in response to proposed new limits for the release of metals from ceramic materials and articles into food.

It is important that makers working with Ceramics and Glass intended to come into contact with foodstuffs and traders of such objects take part in this consultation, as the proposed new limits could affect them.

The European Commission is looking into revising limits for the release of lead and cadmium from ceramic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs, as currently laid down in Council Directive 84/500. The Commission is also considering the inclusion of other materials, such as glass, in the new measure. 

Views are now being sought from relevant stakeholders.

The Commission has produced a “Background document (PDF)” which provides additional detail on their proposal. Read Background document (PDF).

At a European level the Commission will send the consultation to the following three organisations:

  1. The European Ceramic Industry Association, Rue de la Montagne 17 – 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Tel.: +32.2.808.38.80, Tel.: +32.2.808.38.84 (direct) www.cerameunie.eu.   
  2. UEAPME union européenne de l´artisanat et des petites et moyennes entreprises, 4 Rue Jacques de Lalaing, B-1040 Bruxelles, Tel +32 2 2850 724, www.ueapme.com.
  3. FEVE - the European Container Glass Federation aisbl, Avenue Louise 89, Bte 4 B-1050 Bruxelles Tel +32 2 536 00 80, Direct: +32 2 536 00 83, www.feve.org.

(Organisations which are connected to one of the above may wish to liaise with them before they provide their responses.)

The Commission have also prepared two questionnaires.

This questionnaires concern the impact of new limits for metals released from ceramic articles into food in the context of food safety. It also includes release from glass materials and articles in order to assess the impact if these limits were applied to glass in the future.

Ceramics in contact with food are regulated at European level by Council Directive 84/500/EEC. The current limits are 0.3 milligram cadmium per litre food simulant and 4 milligram lead per litre food simulant. Based on opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinions published in 2009 and 2010, and standard assumptions for food contact materials, the European Commission considers proposing to reduce the limits to 5 microgram of cadmium per kg food simulant and 10 microgram of lead per kg food simulant.

Since these limits are substantially lower than the current limits the European Commission needs to understand the impact of the reduction on the involved business operators and especially SMEs. Therefore it is consulting this group via this questionnaire.

On the basis of the information obtained in this consultation, the proposed limits may be revised, the date of entry into force will be determined, and potential additional provisions to mitigate the impact to the business operators will be discussed.

Further information on food contact materials, including the applicable legislation can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/chemicalsafety/foodcontact/index_en.htm

The Questionnaires

The first questionnaire (Industry Consultation (WORD)) is aimed at Trade Organisations representing business operators producing ceramic/glass food contact materials and articles and individual businesses alike. There is also an Industry Questionnaire (WORD) prepared by the FSA to gather information on the actual costs associated with meeting the requirements of these proposed revisions, in order to assist in quantifying the impact that changes to the legislation may have on industry.

If you are a small to medium sized enterprise (ie a maker), please complete the ‘SME Panel Questionnaire’ (WORD) instead.

Questionnaires should be sent to a relevant UK Trade Association. Associations can then submit comments to European Union organisations, copied to simon.craig@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk, so these can be passed to the European Commission.

Where this is not possible please provide your comments to:

Simon Craig, Standards & Hygiene Associated Regulatory Policy, Food Standards Agency: simon.craig@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

The Food Standards Agency will then collate the responses and submit these to the European Commission on your behalf.

Makers working with Ceramics and Glass intended to come into contact with foodstuffs are encouraged to complete the SME Panel Questionnaire’ (WORD) and return it to the above.

Please note a deadline of Monday 03 September 2012 for the return of this information.

In the meantime, the FSA is considering the Commission’s proposals as well as the recent EFSA opinions on lead and cadmium. The FSA are also consulting with other Government Departments, as well as the National Reference Laboratory on Food Contact Materials, to seek their views on the practicalities of detecting these metals at the proposed limits. The FSA will develop a negotiating position for further discussions in Brussels in due course.

Find out more about the FSA http://food.gov.uk/scotland/

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