Ahead of Global Food Contact Webinar Series, we spoke to Eric Andrews, Technical Services Manager at Colour Synthesis Solutions Ltd, to learn more about his outlook on the biggest challenges currently faced by the food contact materials industry, emerging opportunities, and key take-aways from his presentation that will offer a deeper dive into risk assessment and declaring compliance with a focus on NIAS in food contact materials.
Q. As we look to the future of this industry, collaboration and innovation will be crucial ways of tackling the most pressing problems. What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing this industry?
1. Confusion regarding liability and stewardship – especially in considering international standards: What’s required in the US largely overlaps with what’s required in the EU, but the approaches aren’t perfectly aligned.
2. The Circular Economy and the wildcard its advent fosters for impurities and NIAS in one’s product.
Q. What are some of the biggest opportunities in this industry? What changes and developments are you hoping to see in the coming years?
1. There is an opportunity to create new and systematic processes for the regulation of food contact substances as they are to be used in materials with variable levels and quality of recyclable content.
2. There is an opportunity for regulators and analysts to agree on and implement standards that capture and confirm impurities and NIAS that accompany highly variable products like recycled FCM.
Q. Even though the event has gone virtual, we’re still bringing together thought leaders from across the supply chain to discuss the latest updates and inspire important conversations. Why is an event like this important to this industry?
Without events like this, there will be no pressure on the legislators to evaluate the status quo. Requirements and recommendations are driven by industry and tangentially by the public. Thought leaders who span both industry and law and who are themselves inherently part of the public are necessary for managing the safe use of innovative and exotic products.
Your presentation will discuss risk assessment and declaring compliance with a focus on NIAS in FCM. What are some key take-aways?
1. Risk will overwhelmingly be determined by that which is not anticipated – it is already. Colorants for example are relatively innocuous – but their intermediates and degradation products are often not.
2. There are several major contributing factors to the overall impurities profile of a product undergoing risk assessment:
a. Origin and quality of the intermediates
b. Degradation of the product or side reactions occurring during processing conditions
c. Incorporating FCS into materials that are variable due to recycled polymer content
All of these items elucidate the need for regular quality control, beyond that which may be currently considered sufficient.
3. NIAS needs be managed on a screening basis to ensure that analytes occurring in high abundance are not missed – this often requires the use of sophisticated analytical equipment and a dual injection approach as championed by the drinking water bottle branch of the industry. Extending these practices to the entire food contact compliance landscape will be crucial for good product stewardship