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Food contact materials - metals and alloys

Nordic guidance for authorities, industry and trade

image of Food contact materials - metals and alloys

Metals and alloys are widely applied as food contact materials, e.g. as process equipment in the food industry and as household utensils. Therefore, they are a potential source of food contamination. Migration of substances from food contact materials to food must not occur in amounts that endanger human health. Relevant for food contact materials made from metals and alloys are the migration (release) of metals, both the main components and foreseen impurities.In-house control based on a declaration of compliance, DoC, and supporting documentation at the producers and importers are important prerequisites to limit this contamination and to ensure compliance with the legislation. This is considered a general part of quality assurance, even though the European legislation does not specifically require a DoC for metals and alloys used as food contact materials.This Nordic guideline gives a short overview of toxicology, analytical feasibility, legislation and guideline values for release of metals from food contact materials. Therefore, the guideline will be a useful tool for industry and official food inspectors.

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Food contact materials: Use of metals and alloys

Metals and alloys are used as food contact materials, mainly in processing equipment, containers and household utensils but also in e.g. foils for wrapping food where they play a role as a safety barrier between the food and the exterior. Metals and alloys are often covered by a surface coating. When they are not coated these food contact materials can give rise to release of metal ions to the food due to corrosion of the metal. This might endanger human health if the total content of the metals in food exceeds the health based guideline values, if any, or bring about an unacceptable change in the composition of the food or a deterioration of its organoleptic characteristics. Therefore, it was deemed necessary to establish these guidelines to regulate this sector. Also, the Council of Europe has made a report on metals and alloys in 2013.

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