Starting in 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to include new restrictions in new Food Contact Notifications on the use of food contact substances for infant applications. Recently, FDA has hosted webinars to present information on regulatory requirements and considerations for infant formula ingredients and packaging. This article will discuss the history and current efforts by FDA to ensure the safety of infant formula, especially pertaining to food contact substances used in packaging.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs are a policy approach where producers are given a significant responsibility for the treatment of post-consumer products. They involve building the cost of disposal into the cost of the product. These programs are meant to boost collection and recycling. They can also result in increased reusable and refillable packaging and encourage material reduction in packages. Any EPR program for food packaging needs to take into account food safety requirements and comply with applicable food packaging regulations. Any changes in food packaging must continue to protect the food after filling, during transportation and storage, and throughout its shelf life. Currently, four states—Maine, Oregon, Colorado, and California—have food packaging EPR laws, with more states expected to follow. However, EPR laws impacting food packaging are still in their infancy. States are looking for the most efficient ways to meet the requirements in the statues.
As the focus on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) intensifies, multiple states and some U.S. federal agencies are implementing or considering implementation of restrictions or bans on the products use in food contact articles. This article focuses on the restrictions and bans in the U.S. that impact the use of PFAS in food packaging, and includes a discussion of the challenges manufacturers face due to inconsistent science and policy decision related to the use of these chemicals in food packaging.
Efforts to reduce food waste may include the use of active and intelligent (A&I) packaging. Literature has pointed out the links between climate change, natural resource depletion, and food waste, and suggests that using A&I packaging to prolong product freshness and slow down spoilage of perishable fruit and meat has the diversion potential of 72,000 tons and an economic value of $167 million. As innovations in packaging advance, if allowed to do so, the impact of these products could be of greater benefit, not only in reducing food waste but also in improving food safety.
Many food companies have made commitments to increase the use of recycled plastics in their packaging within the next 10 years. As this demand increases, there is more interest in chemical recycling, but first, we must understand current reprocessing capabilities and possible safety issues with the use of chemical recycled plastics in food packaging.
The European Union (EU) is currently evaluating its legislation on food contact materials (FCMs), which has identified safety concerns due to the lack of specific EU rules for most FCM types. This article takes a closer look at the status of these regulatory updates.