The Finnish Food Authority notifies that importers and distributors must stop importing plastic food contact materials that contain unauthorised vegetable fibres because they are non-compliant. Such products already on the market must be withdrawn from sale. Municipal food control units oversee recalls.
The import and sale of plastic food contact materials containing unauthorised vegetable fibres such as bamboo flour or rice flour is prohibited. These materials have been used as a filler in the manufacture of various take-away beakers, children’s tableware and cutlery, for example. These products do not comply with food contact material law and so their safety cannot be verified. This ban does not apply to food contact materials made solely of bamboo and which do not contain plastic.
The safety of unauthorised vegetable fibres has not been assessed
Not all vegetable fibres have been authorised for use as a substance in the manufacture plastic food contact materials in the EU. Migration of, for example, melamine and formaldehyde has often been found to exceed limits in plastic food contact materials containing vegetable fibres. Doubts have also arisen as to the original purity of the vegetable fibres used in the products. Products containing vegetable fibres have been marketed misleadingly as eco-friendly alternatives to plastics and even as biodegradable. They are, however, plastic products and so do not biodegrade in nature.
According to the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) assessment, vegetable fibres cannot be authorised generally for use as a substance in the manufacture of plastic food contact materials and that their safety must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It is not known whether businesses using vegetable fibres in the manufacture of plastic food contact materials have applied for authorisation for their use. According to the European Commission, products containing vegetable fibres do not comply with food contact material law.
- Summary of the European Commission's discussion on plastic food contact materials containing bamboo fibre or other unauthorised vegetable fibres
- Plastics Regulation 10/2011 (Annex I list of authorised substances)
- Plastic products containing bamboo or other unauthorised vegetable fibres
- Finnish Food Authority's guidelines on the withdrawal of products
- Finnish Customs import controls of food and consumer goods
- EFSA’s assessment
Merja Virtanen, Senior Inspector, Finnish Food Authority, tel. +358 50 386 8436, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonna Neffling, Product Safety Manager, Finnish Customs, tel. +358 40 332 3325, email@example.com