The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has begun consultation with food and beverage manufacturers over their progress in bringing plastic packaging contact materials in line with health and safety rules.
Manufacturers have been given until 21 March this year to comment on their awareness of the dates, by which time they must comply with the changing requirements for packaging materials outlined in EU directives.
Directive 2007/19/EC, was drawn up last year by the European Union to amend the use of plastic and other food contact materials both produced in, and entering the bloc. The FSA is therefore seeking the industry's reaction to two specific dates relating to these amendments.
By 1 July 2008, manufacturers will be prohibited from making or importing gasket lids that fail to comply with directive 2007/19/EC.
On the same date, no manufacturer operating in the bloc can use plastic materials or articles that come into contact with food not complying with the specifications for phthalates outlined in Directive 2002/72/EC and modified by directive 2007/19/EC.
Phthalates are a class of chemicals used in plastic food packaging and have been linked in some cases to reproductive problems by some scientific studies.
The final deadline of 1 May 2009, will outlaw plastic and other food contact materials not complying with Directive 2002/72/EC and again amended in 2007/19/EC.
EU directive 2007/19/EC lays down harmonised rules on food contact plastics and other related annexes and rules list authorised monomers and other starting substances that can be used in packaging.
The proposed Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (England) Regulations 2008 will implement this EU directive.
Directive 2007/19/EC was introduced to puts new limits on the use of specific plasticisers, including epoxydised soybean oil (ESBO) and some phthalates. The directive also sets new migration limits.
It also amends Council Directive 85/572/EEC by introducing a fat-reducing factor (FRF).
The FSA said the FRF provides a better estimation of consumer exposure to substances migrating into fatty foods
The amending directive provides clarification for the term 'plastic multi-layer', the FSA reported.
"It brings such materials firmly within the scope of these rules and distinguishes them from the 'plastic functional barrier'," the FSA stated.
The directive also contains provisions for the use of plastic functional barriers to help in reducing the migration of a substance below its specific limit.
The ambiguity in the law surrounding what constitutes metal gaskets in lids has now also been clarified by this amending directive, the FSA reported at the time.
Metal gaskets in lids now fall under the scope of Directive 2002/72/EC.
The amending directive also provides time for manufacturers to apply for the evaluation of specific additives, which are not currently included in the lists of authorised substances.