Unit Safety of Food-Contact Materials
Substances can be transferred from materials and articles used in contact with food (e.g. packaging, tableware or kitchen utensils) to food. The unit assesses the health risk of these substance transfers and publishes the results in the form of statements and publications. Chemical/analytical and toxicological data serve as the basis for the risk assessment. The unit also carries out health assessments of printing ink components that can be transferred to foodstuffs. Within the scope of its activities, the unit supports the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Public Control Authorities of the German federal states in their work.
Current information and statements can be found here.
In the absence of European or national specifications, the "BfR Recommendations on Food Contact Materials" represent recommendations for the safe use of substances for the production of food contact materials. They are elaborated and further developed by the unit. As part of the evaluation of applications for the inclusion of new substances into the BfR recommendations, data on chemistry and technology, conditions of use, and migration into food (including the analytical methods used) are assessed with particular regard to possible consumer exposure. Studies on genotoxicity and on toxic effects after repeated dose (if applicable on carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, neuro toxicity and immune toxicity as well as on endocrine properties) are taken into account. Furthermore, findings on absorption, distribution and metabolism, including possible accumulation of the substance in the body, as well as on its excretion are taken into account.
The unit is responsible for the management of the BfR Committee for Consumer Products and its sub-committees.
The unit houses the National Reference Laboratory for materials in contact with food.
Research projects are carried out in the unit to support risk assessment activities.
Employees of the unit represent the BfR in national and international expert bodies such as DIN and CEN working groups, the working groups of the GDCh and the ALS for consumer products, the expert body of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) on "plastics and other non-metallic materials in contact with drinking water" and expert groups of the EU Commission and the Council of Europe. They contribute to the work of the EFSA "Food Contact Materials" working group of the Panel on "Food Contact Materials, Enzymes and Processing Aids" (CEP) as well as of various ECHA expert groups.