The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency that was formed in 1906 to protect and promote public health, and regulate and supervise food safety and other products, including pharmaceutical drugs and veterinary products. Part of this function involves regulating how foods are processed, packaged.
Like all legislation, together with rules and regulations, those relating to food packaging change from time to time. The FDA supplies information about any changes on its website, so that both packaging manufacturers and consumers are constantly informed.
FDA Regulations on Food Packaging
A primary concern of the FDA is that packaging and the “food contact substances” used for packaging, is safe. These include plastic packaging materials (polymers), the antioxidants and pigments used in polymers, can coatings, as well as adhesives and the various materials that are used when paperboard and paper are manufactured. Various antimicrobial agents like slimicides and biocides, as well as sealants for caps and lids are also covered.
Ultimately the question is whether food contact substances are safe or potentially hazardous to humans (and animals). And before any new FCS can be used for packaging, it must be thoroughly tested by the FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety (OFAS) to assess any impurities or toxins, and to make certain that it really is safe for use with food.
Additionally, the use of recycled plastics in food packaging has been carefully considered by the FDA. However, they have only produced guidelines for packaging industry, and these are not legally binding.
At the end of the day, the most important factor for food packaging manufacturers is that the packaging they use is FDA compliant.
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