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More transparency needed in deciding food contact material rules

Lawyers have highlighted the need for greater transparency in the implementation of European laws governing the types of materials that are in contact with food.

Legal experts from environmental law charity ClientEarth have joined other key organisations working in the public interest – including CHEMTrust, the Health and Environmental Alliance (HEAL) and European consumer organisation BEUC – in outlining the current weaknesses of current food contact material regulation.

During a workshop organised by the European Commission on the evaluation of food contact material law last week, ClientEarth raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the decision-making processes regarding these materials. This workshop launched the regulatory ‘fitness check’, known as REFIT, of the European law governing the presence of chemicals in materials in contact with food.

During the workshop, ClientEarth chemicals lawyer Alice Bernard exposed the lack of transparency regarding an industry-only expert group advising the Commission on food contact materials.

This group excludes organisations working in the public interest and there is not much information publicly available about how this group operates, or its agenda and the content of its discussions. This casts doubts on the independence of the Commission when implementing such laws.

Bernard said: “This regulation needs a serious upgrade, for the prevention of harm to our health. Endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and other particularly hazardous chemicals deserve more careful attention and specific rules, considering the gravity of the diseases they may cause or contribute to.”

In coming months, ClientEarth will contribute to the public consultation and other consultations carried out in the context of this evaluation, to advocate for more preventive measures, more transparency in decision-making processes, and less potential for undue influence from industry.

You can watch the workshop here.

And consult the presentation here.

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