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European and national regulations govern materials and articles intended for contact with food.
In packaging, 2 rules are complied with:
- Present no health hazards
- Not alter the organoleptic characteristics or composition of food (except in the case of "active" packaging, provided that the additives concerned are for food use).
The inertness principle is a major foundation of regulations on food contact, to which plastic and flexible packaging makers are especially attentive.
The following are drawn up in that framework:
- Lists of authorised substances ("positive" lists under Directive EC/2002/72 and its amendments)
- Purity criteria for those substances
- Conditions of use, as the case may be
- And migration limits (total migration, any specific migrations related to particular substances).
Compliance with these requirements is attested by the compliance statement that the packaging manufacturer draws up when delivering products to the customer.
NB: Regulations on materials for food use do not apply to packaging for cosmetics or medicinal products.
The "Cosmetics directive" and the "Pharmacopoeia" are the regulatory bases for these areas.
However, at the customer's specific request or in order to widen the scope of their investigation, packaging manufacturers may be led to take account of regulations on materials intended for food use.