Beeswax in contact material use

Questions and answers dealing with the beeswax textiles - scientific institution of the Federal Republic of Germany, BfR

Can bee wax be used as a cheese rind and what requirements must it meet?

The use of beeswax is permitted as an additive (E901) for the edible coating and glazing of some foods. If beeswax is used to protect the cheese and is not intended to be eaten, it is a food contact material that must comply with the requirements set out in Regulation (EU) 1935/2004. There is no material-specific legislation for contact materials made from beeswax.

It must be verified that the beeswax used as a contact material does not contain pesticides such as anti-mite substances if these have been used in beekeeping. Small amounts of pesticide easily remain and thus transfer to the food as residues.

For beeswax (as for other contact materials), a request must be made to the producer for documents demonstrating regulatory compliance to indicate the composition of the beeswax and that it does not contain impurities. It is advisable to be particularly careful regarding the purity of imported beeswax. It has emerged that in some cases beeswax has been extended with paraffin oil containing mineral oils which are harmful to human health (MOSH and MOAH).

I would like to make beeswax-coated fabric guards for sale  that are intended to protect food, e.g. in a refrigerator or in sandwiches. Are there purity requirements, etc., for such beeswax fabrics to demonstrate the regulatory compliance and safety of a product?

There is no material-specific legislation for beeswax-coated fabrics or for fabrics otherwise. This is why there is no ready-made model to demonstrate the safety and other regulatory compliance of these products and instead the manufacturer must draw one up based on the general guidelines of the Finnish Food Authority

In the case of beeswax, its origin (traceability) must be clear. If the manufacturer of the packaging materials coated with beeswax is also the producer of the beeswax, then the origin of the beeswax will certainly be known. If the beeswax is procured elsewhere, its origin and purity must be established (see previous question and answer).

In fabrics various surface treating agents that may have been used in the manufacture of a fabric are cause for concern. The manufacturer must be aware of the composition of the fabric and request a declaration of compliance from its supplier stating that the fabric  meets the requirements of Regulation (EU) 1935/2004. The fabric supplier must provide information about which substances the fabric has been treated with and in this context the manufacturer may have to establish by laboratory examinations whether there is a possibility of the constituents in the fabric migrating into food.

These examinations must be conducted on finished products under the conditions (type of food, temperature, contact time) in which the fabric coming into contact with the beeswax is intended to be in contact with food. Tests are generally conducted in the worst possible contact with food so as to obtain the widest possible conditions of use for the material.

Once the raw materials are known and own examinations have been completed, the manufacturer can write a declaration of compliance for the product.

The intended use of the beeswax fabric and the permitted contact conditions as well as cleaning instructions must be indicated on the label. It is important that the consumer knows how to clean the beeswax fabric properly so that it does not cause microbiological hazards in foods.

Page last updated 4/28/2021