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30 January 2023

Food packaging regulations: everything you need to know

Reference Standards for Food Packaging

Food packaging falls under the so-called MOCAs (Materials and articles in contact with food), which include all materials and products used to package, store, transport, or consume food. In order to ensure consumer safety and product conformity, food packaging must be manufactured in compliance with precise standards and regulations.

EU regulations require compliance with manufacturig standards to certify that the materials used for packaging are suitable for food contact and do not contain substances that could be harmful to the health of consumers or cause a deterioration in the organoleptic qualities of foodstuffs.

The reference legislation for MOCA is Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004, which defines the general requirements to be met by all food contact materials, but there are detailed provisions concerning individual materials.
Let's take a detailed look at the specific measures to be followed for MOCAs and the main reference regulations for plastic packaging.

Food packaging regulations: requirements to be met

Both Italian and EU legislation address the issue of MOCA safety. Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 states that all materials and articles intended to come into contact with food must be manufactured in accordance with good manufacturing practice and must not transfer foreign and potentially hazardous substances to food. In particular, the Regulation aims to ensure that the components of food contact materials:

  • do not constitute a danger to human health;
  • do not bring about an unacceptable change in the composition of foodstuffs;
  • do not cause a deterioration of organoleptic characteristics.

According to MOCA regulations, manufacturers must also ensure adequate communication about the use of the materials and objects they manufacture, both to retailers and end consumers, through labelling.

Instead, the manufacture of MOCA is governed by Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006, which identifies a set of safety practices and requirements that all manufacturers must adhere to. To ensure compliance and safety of MOCAs, manufacturers must use:

  • raw materials suitable for the manufacturing process;
  • suitable locations and trained personnel;
  • effective and documented quality control systems.

Legislation for plastic food contact materials and articles: Regulation (EU) No 10/2011

Regulation (EU) No. 10/2011 is a specific measure of Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 and establishes specific rules for the manufacture and marketing of plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs (or already in contact with foodstuffs or reasonably expected to come into contact with them).

The regulation applies to all materials and articles made exclusively of plastics, such as:

  • materials and articles and their parts made exlusively of plastics;
  • multi-layer plastic materials joined by adhesives;
  • moulded or coated materials of plastics layers or coating constituting plastic gaskets of lids or closures;
  • plastic layers in multi-layer multi-material articles.

The regulation defines all composition requirements and authorised substances that may be used in the manufacture of plastic food contact materials and articles, and requires a Declaration of Conformity to be drawn up to demonstrate product compliance. The regulation also specifies criteria for conformity assessment and requirements for carrying out specific migration tests and information on simultants and conditions to be used in the tests.

Compliance with the obligations of Regulation (EU) No. 10/2011 and its additions is of paramount importance for all manufacturers and actors in the plastic food packaging and materials supply chain to ensure complete product safety and compliance and thus protect consumer health.

Plastisac food packaging: polyethylene products certified for food contact suitability

The quality and safety of all plastic packaging produced has always been one of Plastisac's main goals. Polyethylene food packaging for the food sector is made with high quality raw materials 100% virgin (as established by Regulation (EU) No 10/2011) controlled and processed in full compliance with current regulations and standards. In addition, all food packaging undergoes quality controls at both the production and cutting stage to ensure compliance with the high quality standards required.

In 2012, Plastisac obtained UNI EN 15593:2008 certification on hygiene management in the production of MOCAs, which allows producers of packaging for food use to certify their ability to manage control hygiene risk related to the products made. In 2018, the company renewed the certification and is now able to control all aspects of hygiene management in the production of packaging, meeting the requirements also for storage and transport and the quality and hygiene standards introduced by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

On the other hand, as far as quality control aspects are concerned, Plastisac has obtained the following certification: UNI EN ISO 9001:2015 (issued by DNV Business Assurance Italia Srl) and constantly invests in research and development to assess, maintain and improve the quality standards of all the company's production processes.

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