European food contact legislation

In Europe, the prevailing legal system covering food contact consists of several EU regulations. Since the early 1970s, the Commission of the European Communities has been active in the area of harmonization of the laws of the Member States on food contact materials and articles. The current framework is Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004.

The legal system currently encompasses:
  • The Framework regulation that covers all food contact materials and articles
  • The Good Manufacturing Practice regulation
  • Legislation on specific materials at EU and national level
Harmonization of food contact regulations in the EU is only partial, even for the most advanced area of plastics materials and articles:
  • Specific national food contact regulations and basic legal principles of the individual EU Member States still (and will continue to) prevail.
  • Consideration of the free movement of goods following mutual recognition under Article 28 of the EC Treaty may also be relevant.