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Interview with Intertek

Ahead of this September's Food Contact Asia 2022, we spoke with Dr. Martin Hoagland, Project Manager, Regulatory Notifications at Intertek, to get a sneak peek of what we can expect from his presentation on 'Global Food contact notifications of polymeric materials, and will focus on EU, China, and US regulation'. Here's what he had to say...

Current Industry Focus:
Q1. As consumers/end users continually push for more sustainable/greener/safer solutions, what do you think is the biggest concern regarding food contact materials/packaging?
As emerging technologies are being developed and applied to meet the increased demand for more sustainable solutions from consumers/end users, it is an exciting time in food packaging! The concerns are how can these new solutions be used to bring safe and effective products to market, how can the safety of these products be communicated to consumers and end users, and how can the solutions be evaluated to support sustainability claims.
Q2. What are some of the biggest opportunities gaining attention within the food contact field? How has your company chosen to react/adapt to stay on trend?
There are several opportunities in food contact: A global demand for food contact materials requires expertise in meeting the needs of customers to safely bring compliant food contact products to market. Unfortunately, global food contact regulations are not fully harmonized, so staying abreast of changes in the various regulatory bodies and meeting those needs is a constant challenge that requires talented and diverse teams that can build effective working relationships with manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors as well as laboratory service providers and regulatory agencies.
Future Focus:
Q3. What industry topics are getting the most attention at this time? How are these factors influencing the future of food contact packaging/materials?
Green technologies and initiatives that require increased use of recycled plastics and biodegradable materials and biopolymers are expanding the portfolio of food contact materials and changing the fate of end-use consumer food contact packaging.  The increased public awareness and demand for sustainable, greener technologies is resulting from increased awareness of the environmental impacts of consumer choices. Increased demand for food contact products that are not only safe for consumers but are also safe for the environment is driving the development of new materials and recycling of classic food contact packaging to decrease the consumer’s environmental footprint.
Q4. What does your company/organization hope to achieve over the next 5 years with regards to the future of food contact packaging/materials industry?
Intertek is a leading consulting resource that provides a one-stop shop for global regulatory needs of food contact packaging including in-house analytical testing and toxicologists. With our global associates, we are well positioned to meet the needs of our clients to bring safe, effective products to new markets. Intertek has been a long-time resident within the regulatory consulting world with strong experience in meeting the needs of clients including those for recycled food contact materials. An increased focus on these technologies is driving the development of product innovations and technology reviews for safety and complianceIn addition, these new technologies and product innovations are driving the need for facility assessments and audits to meet the needs of regulatory approvals. Intertek expects that this demand will continue to grow over the next 5 years and beyond.
Q5. What opportunities are there for harmonization of food contact regulations in the Asia Pacific region?
Because of the many different regions, food contact regulations had many different starting points with the various legislative bodies. However, while the process by which food contact materials reach different markets may never be fully harmonized, end-use products are reaching global markets. Positives lists are continuously being updated and agencies have processes to permit the introduction of new technologies to their consumers. Through increased communication and information sharing of science-based decision making, harmonization of food contact regulations is progressing wherein data development and safety information is commonly similar across agencies; however, some food contact materials are receiving increased scrutiny by differing agencies leading to restricted market access or limited product use conditions.
Conference Related:
Q6. Your presentation at this year’s event is Global Food contact notifications of polymeric materials, and will focus on EU, China, and US regulation. Why is it important for others in your industry to hear this message? What are some of the key take-aways?
While the processes to introduce new polymeric materials to the EU, China, and US are different, there are many similarities in the types of data that are required for premarket review and approval. While global food contact regulations may not be harmonized to date, there are specific strategies that may be implemented to generate a single set of data that may be used to support food contact petitions in multiple jurisdictions.
Q7. Which presentations (what session topic) are you most looking forward to hearing about at Food Contact Asia? 
I am looking forward to hearing from all the speakers and the various topics to stay abreast of current trends as well as share information on emerging issues.