FILE: Food contact proficiency testing in analytical laboratories - Analytics (2023)

Since 2004,EC regulation 1935/2004has imposed certain regulations on the food industry for the manufacture of materials and objects intended to come into contact with products. The purpose of such regulations is to protect the consumer and ensure the quality of the products consumed. So are aptitude tests forfood contactallow among other thingsMigrationof these materials or objects compared to foodstuffs to be assessed. In order to carry out their activity, these companies must register and comply with the French authoritiesEC regulation 1935/2004. Although the analysis of microbiological hazards in companies is partially under control, the same is not true for the analysis of chemical hazards.

As a result, the rating ofSuitability for food contact,global and specific migration testsand the output of afood safety certificateare three fundamental points regarding the quality of the food we consume every day. Analytics will help you understand the issues in this area and also carry out your various tests on this subject through our network of partner laboratories specialized in this field.

Suitability for food contact:

What does food contact mean?

food contactrefers to all materials that a food can come into contact with during its processing. This includes the storage phase (silos, tanks, boxes, etc.), the processing phase (work surface, conveyor, machines, etc.), and the packaging phase (plastics, jars, cartons, etc.). All products resulting from this process must therefore be evaluated to ensure that they do not represent a source of health risks.

The various materials that are in the product processing cycle are all intended to come into direct or indirect contact with foodstuffs that are placed on the Community market, in order to ensure a high level of consumer protection. It is envisaged that further requirements related to specific materials will be adopted laterRegulation EC 1935/2004.

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Definition and principle of food suitability:FILE: Food contact proficiency testing in analytical laboratories - Analytics (1)

The suitability for food contactof an object or material refers to its ability to adapt to the following conditions

for use in the processing, transport or packaging of a food. The material from which any of these items are made must meet regulatory and normative requirements guaranteeing that there is no risk of toxicity to food and/or beverages when the item in question is used under normal conditions (no overheating, no contact with toxic products etc.).

In the European Union is theSuitability of an object or material for contact with foodis represented by the pictogram showing a stemmed glass and fork. All products that undergo food safety tests must be neutral to the food they contain (avoiding the migration of compounds and not altering the taste or quality of the food).

Which matrices are affected by food contact?

The foods in question are both food and drink, both as end products and as intermediate products intended for human consumption.

The regulationsRegulation EC 1935/2004AnSuitability for food contactapply to the following articles and materials:

  • Packaging and packaging methods, including cans, bottles and foils, for containing, preserving or protecting food;
  • containers and kitchen utensils, including household appliances, intended to come into direct contact with food;
  • Materials, machinery and equipment used in the production, storage and transportation of food (cooking and freezing equipment, tankers, vats, blenders, etc.);
  • teats and pacifiers for infants ;
  • Active materials such as freshness labels;
  • Miscellaneous such as napkins, fruit baskets etc.

On the other hand, the following items and materials are not affected by the provisions of theRegulation EC 1935/2004AnSuitability for food contact:

  • Edible coating substances that are part of food and can be consumed at the same time, which fall under the Foodstuffs Regulation and the Foodstuffs Regulationhealth control plan(for example: cheese rinds);
  • Fixed, public or private drinking water installations are subject to special regulations.

Specific guidelines complete and specify this initial selection by addressing criteria for17 material familieswith the aim of covering the entire product rangemake contactwith different foods. These 17 material families stand for wood, waxes, lacquers and coatings,textiles, silicones, regenerated cellulose, inks, brush fibers, plastics, paper and board, ion exchange resins, glass, ceramics, intelligent materials and articles, adhesives, metals and alloys, rubber and cork.

Food Certificate:

Thenutritional certificateis closely related to the assessment ofSuitability for food contactof an object or material.

What is a food certificate?

As a reminder, the term "Nourishment' refers to the ability of a materialcome into contact with foodwithout changing its quality or molecular structure.

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receiving onenutritional certificateguarantees that the evaluated material does not pose any danger. The material evaluated does not show any interaction with the food with which it is likely to come into contact within the limits of practical use for an indefinite period of time. This document certifies that the product sold meets the requirementsRegulation EC 1935/2004,depending on its composition. That is statedGlobal and specific migrationsare carried out within the framework of the applicable regulations.

Thefood safety certificateis a document issued by the manufacturer or by the person who places the material or object in question on the European market. Such a document is particularly important for precisely defined sectors such as gastronomy, the food trade (bakery, sausage products, delicatessen) and the agricultural and food industry.

What does it contain?

Afood certificatecontains some essential data collected through rigorous migration attempts and analysis. All available information demonstrates the viability of a product intended forfood contact,including :

  • The composition of the product;
  • The use for which the product is intended: Type of suitability (dry or humid environment, for aqueous food, etc.) Use (cooking, freezing, etc.) Contact time (3 days, 1 month, more than 6 months);
  • The environmental conditions in which it is to be used (operating temperature);
  • its batch number to ensure its traceability;
  • The identity of the company(ies) that manufactures and sells the product: company name and address;
  • The legal references toEC regulation 1935/2004or any other test, depending on its composition (for example:EU regulation 10/2011for plastic).

In addition to these basic data are theFood safety certificatemust also indicate that theglobal migration and specific migration testsperformed less than 5 years ago to demonstrate fitness for purpose on the label. It must also indicate the presence of products provided by thespecific migrationsas well as their quantity.

What guarantees are there?

Afood safety certificateguarantees compliance with good manufacturing practice for a product intended to come into contact with food, as indicated inEC Regulation No. 2023/2006,Art.5 "Quality Assurance and Control System". It also certifies that the product complies with the global and specific migration limits, as obtaining them requires complianceMigrationstestsand that they meet the requirements.

As a result, a product is certified forfood contactdoes not pose a risk to human health, does not alter the consumption of the food and does not alter the organoleptic properties of these foods. These three guarantees only apply if the product is used under the normal conditions for which it is intended.

Global and specific migrations:

Global or specific migration testsmake it possible to measure the amount of compounds 'migrating' from the packaging or material into the food. These tests are carried out by certified laboratories that determine the levels of these compounds deposited on the food. If the results are below the specified limits, the packaging or material is certified as suitable for food contact.

What is global migration?

Globale Migrationrefers to the set of non-volatile compounds that diffuse from the container into the contents. It is the mass of everything that migrates, without distinction of its kind, only its amount, expressed in mg/kg of food or in mg/cm² of material.

Aglobale Migration testconsists of measuring the amount of a substance that migrates from the material into the food. This test does not determine the migrating substance, but its quantity. The contact conditions (time and temperature) are determined by the regulations according to the conditions of use of the material intended to come into contact with food.

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TheGlobal Migration Testcan be carried out according to the NF EN 1186 standard, which allows to choose the appropriate conditions for its application.

What is specific migration?

Specific migrationrefers to the quantification of certain substances in a luxury food. Just like themGlobal Migration Test, Diespecific migration testis very important in connection with thefood safety certificatebecause the limits ofspecific migrationsare also subject to standards.

In contrast toglobal migration, specific migrationis defined for a specific connection. Therefore, the allowable levels depend primarily on the nature of the compound in question.

The benchmark for thespecific migration testIsNF EN 1388-2. It describes a reference method for determining the emission quantity of certain substances (monomers, additives, plasticizers, elements and metals, etc.). The result is expressed in mg of target molecule per kg of food or in mg of target molecule per cm² of material.

Regulations and legal framework:

The quality, the level of safety and the requirements for materials and objects intended for thiscome into contact with foodare set by law at national and community level. All of these regulations are based on the normal conditions of use in which the material must be used. Under these normal conditions of use, materials must not release any components into foodMigrationto values ​​that pose a risk to the health of the consumer or that can change the properties or composition of the food.

Therefore, the legal framework that we will discuss applies to finished products:

  • Intended for contact with food;
  • Already in contact with food and intended for it;
  • that can come into contact with food, always under the foreseeable conditions of their use.

European regulation :

In the European Union, as we have already seen, this is the caseRegulation (EC) 1935/2004she rules themSuitability of materials for contact with food.Among other things, it defines the inertness criteria for the 17 categories of materials and objects mentioned above.Regulation (EC) 1935/2004harmonizes the requirements forfood contactMaterials in Member States. It contains specific guidelines that describe the inertness criteria for specific materials and how compliance with them can be verified.

However, depending on the material category, some specific measures can be established. For example, there are lists of approved substances for plastics. Any substance used to create a material or item for which it is intendedfood contactmust be strictly evaluated.

The safety of materials and products that come into contact with food is the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety within the European Commission, which has responsibilities for food safety. It is also responsible for issuing authorizations for the use of a specific substance after its evaluation.

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As forMigrationstests, It isCouncil of Europe Directive 93/8/EECthat set the ground rules for reviewing theMigrationof components of food contact materials.

French regulations:

In France we find themOrder of January 3, 2001(Amendment of the Decree of September 14, 1992) in relation to plastic materials and objects intendedcome into contact with food.

In the food industry, cleaning requirements may involve the use of disinfectants or biocides. TheSuitability of these cleaning agents for contact with foodis governedDecree No. 73-138Creation of the positive list of permitted ingredients for certain product categories.

In 2007, the AFSSA (French Food Safety Agency) issued recommendations on the risks to consumer health when using ingredients that are not on the list of detergents intended for food contact.

In the absence of specific regulations for a given category of material, the existing national regulations apply, as is the case in France for certain materials. EU regulations are laid down there.


For specific materials and products used forfood contact,There are specific certifications, including the following:

  • NF Freezer Bag.
  • non-ferrous aluminum household,
  • NF food hygiene for plants in the food industry.

The structure CEN/TC 261 Emballage is responsible for all European standards related to food packaging.

For example, it is possible for each manufacturer of packaging for which it is intended to have its hygiene management system certified according to several private or public standardsfood contact.

Determination of food suitability in the laboratory:

At Analytics we are able to give you aFood Safety Certificatethrough our network of partner laboratories. You are also able to analyze thatGlobal and specific migrationsfrom youfood packagingas well as hisSuitability for food contact.For more information or a quote request, please do not hesitateto contact us.

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Example of an analysis that can be performed as part of food safety:

  • Analysis of aluminum parts on aluminum for pastry molds
  • Analysis of the composition of a stainless steel for its suitability for contact with food
  • Determination of overall migration on textiles intended for food contact
  • Ability of the gum (in the finished state) to come into contact with food.
  • Migration test on plastic packaging for aqueous and alcoholic products
  • Dosing of MOSH and MOAH hydrocarbons on food packaging

Previous Analytics articles on the topic:

  • Food suitability and food contact certificate: migration tests in the laboratory
  • Laboratory migration test on food contact materials
  • JORF No. 0271 of November 23, 2011: Suitability for food contact
  • Laboratories for the analysis of food contact materials


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