Food Contact Materials: Practices, Agencies and Challenges

  • Jane MunckeEmail author
Part of the Molecular and Integrative Toxicology book series (MOLECUL)


Foods and beverages are often processed and packaged before we consume them. Any material that intentionally comes into contact with foodstuffs is called food contact material (FCM). Many FCMs are plastics or are made of synthetic polymeric materials, like coatings and adhesives. Individual chemicals used for the manufacture of FCMs are called food contact substances (FCS). Specific regulations aim at limiting the migration of FCS into the food, thereby reducing risks of chronic chemical exposure to human health. However, FCMs are an under-recognized source of chemical food contamination. Currently, around 4,000 substances are used in FCMs. The challenge of determining which FCSs are present in food and beverages by chemical analysis is further increased by non-intentionally added substances (NIASs) that are impurities and breakdown products, or formed as reaction by-products of polymerization processes. Over the last few decades, scientific research has increased our understanding of risks linked to chronic chemical exposures. Of particular concern are endocrine disrupting chemicals that affect our body’s hormone systems, mixture effects of chemicals present at individual no-effect levels, transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic effects, and the importance of protecting the developing fetus and infant from harmful chemical exposures. Taken together, these research findings offer important opportunities for prevention of chronic disease. This chapter summarizes current use, regulation and risk assessment of FCMs in the United States of America (U.S.) and the European Union (E.U.). Challenges to the risk assessment process arising from recent scientific insights are discussed, and recommendations how to address these challenges are made.


Food packaging Food contact materials Food contact substances Migration Non-intentionally added substance Chemical risk assessment Toxicological testing requirements 



All statements made in this text reflect the author’s personal professional opinion and are not an expression of the Food Packaging Forum Foundation’s views.


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© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Food Packaging Forum FoundationZurichSwitzerland

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