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Food Federation Germany sharply criticizes notification of the fourth draft of German mineral oil regulation to the EU

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Food Federation Germany sharply criticizes notification of the fourth draft of German mineral oil regulation to the EU

September 30, 2020 - 09:21

BRUSSELS, Sept. 30, 2020 (Fastmarkets RISI) -German trade association Food Federation Germany (Lebensmittelverband Deutschland), formerly the German Federation for Food Law and Food Science (Bund für Lebensmittelrecht und Lebensmittelkunde – BLL), has sharply questioned the form and content of the notification of the fourth draft of the German mineral oil regulation made by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) to the European Commission.

"Here, an uncoordinated, outdated and unfounded national solo effort is being pursued," Sieglinde Stähle, chief scientific officer of the German Federation, said in a statement. According to her, the notified draft has neither been coordinated between ministries nor has it been submitted to the Federal Council. “The draft ordinance does not reflect a consensus within the German federal government and with the federal states,” she said.

The food association criticized the proposed regulation on three key points. First, the draft is allegedly outdated, ignoring the complexity and current state of knowledge on mineral oil migration as well as the implementation of good manufacturing practices, the federation said. 

Second, it could reportedly burden the economy and damage the European internal market. “Importers to Germany would also be massively affected by the effects of the regulation. The industry is therefore calling on the member states to use the TRIS procedure [Technical Regulations Information System – a public database providing information on each notification procedure] to urge that this special national regulation be abandoned, in order to protect their economic circles and the free movement of goods in the internal market.”

Finally, the draft allegedly contradicts the sustainability goals of the EU by promoting the use of barrier and composite materials at the expense of recycling. “The ordinance is replacing recycled fiber-based paper with virgin fiber, which is less environmentally friendly. If the packer stays with recycled paper, the regulation enforces composite materials (e.g. plastic-coated cartonboard) and thus an increased use of material that is not recyclable. Alternatively, inner bags must be used, i.e. plastic packaging, the use of which is undesirable by consumers and politicians and which should be subject to a plastic tax in the future,” the federation said.

In August the BMEL issued a notification to the European Commission (EC) announcing an amended version of the draft in order to prevent the migration of mineral oil into foodstuffs. The new version is an update from the March 2017 draft ordinance, following consultations with the German federal states and industry associations.

Like the previous version, the amended one will focus on mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) only, leaving aside mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH). According to the BMEL, one of the key provisions of the new draft is to require the use of a functional barrier for food contact materials made of recycled fiber-based paper and board. The manufacturer would be exempted if it can demonstrate that MOAH migration does not take place above 0.5 mg MOAH/kg of food or above 0.15 mg MOAH/kg of food simulant.

Stähle is calling on the EC to take a clear stance against the German initiative and for a harmonized EU position that is “appropriate, contemporary and scientifically guided” when dealing with mineral oil contaminants.