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NRL for Materials & Articles in Contact with Food

Fera is the UK National Reference Laboratory for Materials and Articles in Contact with Food. Our work involves research, surveillance and targeted and non targeted analysis of known and unknown migrants. Analysis in complex matrices (foods, food simulants and food contact materials and articles) utilising a range of advanced chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques including headspace gas chromatography, GC-MS, LC-MS and time of flight (TOF)-MS. Staff are experts in policy and legislation, often being asked to speak at high profile global events in this area as well as in the analysis of these matrices. Keep up to date with the latest conferences and events we will be attending.

food contact testing, surveillance, targeted and non targeted analysis, known migrants, unknown migrants

Materials and Articles in Contact with Food

The term 'food contact material' describes any material that may come into contact with a foodstuff. The most obvious example is food packaging but the term also encompasses materials (and articles) used in food processing, transport, preparation and consumption.

These materials may be made from plastic, paper/board, rubber, metal, glass or ceramics, etc. Chemicals are needed to make these materials with their desirable properties. Any chemical constituents present have the potential to transfer to the foods with which they come into contact. In addition, the chemicals present in any adhesives, coatings or printing inks applied to these substrates also have the potential to transfer. This transfer is known as chemical migration. Chemical migration is defined as 'the mass transfer from an external source into food by sub-microscopic processes'.

European Union (EU) legislation on food contact materials and articles and its implementation in the United Kingdom specifies that food contact materials and articles should not transfer their constituents to food so as to endanger health or adversely affect the nature or quality of the food.

All products imported into the UK must comply with European Union (EU) law on contaminants.

EU Regulation - Food Contact Materials

The European Reference Laboratory (EU-RL) in collaboration with its Network of National Reference Laboratories have prepared a number of Guidance documents to support testing of food contact materials

EU-RL Guidance Documents

  • Applicability of generally recognised diffusion models for the estimation of specific migration in support of EU Directive 2002/72/EC
  • Guidelines on testing conditions for articles in contact with foodstuffs (with a focus on kitchenware)
  • Guidelines for performance criteria and validation procedures of analytical methods used in controls of food contact materials
  • Guideline on testing migration of Primary Aromatic amines from polyamide utensils and for formaldehyde from melamine-based kitchenware in support of a future Regulation on imports from China and Hong-Kong

The FSA Food Contact Materials Unit

The FSA has information on banned or restricted products such as Plastic kitchenware from China and Hong Kong under Regulation (EU) No. 284/2011 including First Points of Introduction (FPIs).

Food Guidance
An explanatory note has been prepared and is regularly updated by the Food Standards Agency. It gives a general introduction to the EU harmonised legislation controlling food contact materials and articles, and describes its implementation in the United Kingdom. The FSA regularly issues guidance to food industry representatives and other stakeholders on a range of topics, often as a result of new regulations coming into force.


Learn More

Ever advancing analytical instrumentation provides very powerful tools for determination of IAS and NIAS so to speak with us about our services, or for any services not listed, please contact our recognised expert Dr Malcolm Driffield on:

+44 (0)300 100 0323 or contact us here.