Unit Safety of Food-Contact Materials

The unit reviews chemical and toxicological data for the health risk assessment of the transfer of substances into food from materials and articles that come into contact with food (e.g. in the form of packaging, or during consumption or processing).

The unit is responsible for the issuing of recommendations for the safe use of substances for the production of materials and articles that come into contact with food. When assessing applications for the inclusion of new substances in these recommendations, the institute reviews data on chemistry and technology, on the conditions of use, and on the extent of the transfer into food (including the analytical methods used), in particular with regard to possible exposure of the consumer. Together with data on the genotoxicity and toxic effects following repeated substance administration (where applicable on carcinogenicity, reproduction toxicity, neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity as well as endocrine-disrupting properties), this data is used for the purpose of health risk assessments. In addition, insights into metabolism and toxicokinetics including the possible accumulation of the substances in question in the human body are taken into account.

The recommendations are made available in a database via the website of the BfR.

The unit also deals with the health assessments of printing ink ingredients that can migrage into food.

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 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 (German Chemical Society) and the ALS (Working Group of Experts in Food Chemistry from the Länder) 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 in the EFSA Panel on "Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids" (CEF) and in the EFSA working group on "food contact materials".

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