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Food safety: Shortcomings detected in Icelandic controls of food contact materials

19.6.2013

PR(13)55

Official controls in Iceland on imports, production and use of food contact materials (packaging material, kitchenware etc) need to be tightened. This is the main conclusion of a report published by the EFTA Surveillance Authority.

The Authority carried out a mission to Iceland in December 2012 to verify that official controls related to food contact materials were carried out in compliance with EEA rules. Food contact materials include everything from packaging material and kitchenware to equipment used by food producers. Such materials must not release hazardous chemicals or other substances into the food. Iceland must better its controls to ensure that food contact materials have sufficient documentation and evidence for their safety.

Important shortcomings found in the system for official controls included: 

  • The competent authorities did not have a full overview of producers and importers of food contact materials and the official controls of these were absent or limited, not based on risk and not harmonised in Iceland.
  • there have been no official controls carried out on imported polyamide and melamine plastic kitchenware originating in or consigned from China and Hong Kong in spite of the safeguard measures in place for imports of these products into the European Economic Area laid down in Commission Regulation (EU) No 284/2011. Whereas the incorporation deadline for this Regulation was 1 July 2011, it has still not been incorporated by Iceland;
  • very limited official controls of food producers and their use of food contact materials;
  • there has been no official sampling of food contact materials.

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) and the Local Health Authorities (LCAs) have taken note of the shortcomings identified, and has addressed some of them in the reply to the draft report and has started working on the recommendations contained in the report. The reply from MAST and the LCAs respectively to the draft report is annexed to the final report.

Today, the Authority also sent a reasoned opinion to Iceland concerning the late incorporation of Regulation (EU) No 284/2011. The Regulation concerns procedures for the import of polyamide and melamine plastic kitchenware originating in or consigned from the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China.

A reasoned opinion is the second stage of the infringement procedure. The Authority can bring the matter before the EFTA Court if Iceland fails to comply with the reasoned opinion within two months. 

Read the final report here.

For further information, please contact:

Mr Ólafur Einarsson
Director, Department of Internal Market Affairs
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 73




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