When producing paper sacks for food, European manufacturers face many legal requirements regarding the protection and hygiene of the stored food. To support manufacturers in meeting all regulations and providing the necessary information for food contact compliance to the food producer, the European Paper Sack Research Group (ESG), a collaboration between EUROSAC and CEPI Eurokraft, have launched an update of their food contact guideline. It summarises the relevant regulations at both EU and national levels and gives an overview of the procedures required to collect, evaluate and document all necessary information. Furthermore, it states under which conditions migration testing and the issuing of compliance documents is required.
Paper sacks for food products can be constructed in different ways and with different materials. While some paper sacks are made entirely of paper, other sacks have layers of plastic or aluminium added as a barrier towards moisture, oxygen or fat.
Glue and/or ink are also part of the final construction. All these materials as well as the type of food that will be packed in the sack – whether it is fatty on the surface, contains fat, is dry or is moist – need to be taken into account to fulfil food contact requirements. The same is true for the conditions of use, the storage time and the temperature. Information on these aspects from all suppliers is a prerequisite.
“Food safety is of the utmost importance to our industry. With our updated guideline, we want to clarify the responsibilities for meeting food contact requirements linked to materials, paper sacks and food during the lifetime of the sack in relation to the existing legal regulations,” explains Catherine Plitzko-Kerninon, General Delegate of EUROSAC. “The guideline gives an overview of the most important regulations and explains how, and under which circumstances, they have to be fulfilled and which steps are necessary to take.”
To facilitate the process of ensuring compliance with the legislation for European paper sack manufacturers, the document contains a recommended procedure to ensure food contact compliance, called “ESG/Key Seven Steps”. There are different approaches depending on the composition of the sack. All of them start with collecting information on the intended use for the paper sack and compliance statements as well as other required documents from the suppliers. In addition to this, the information on substances of concern should be summarised, which then concludes if tests on the migration of these substances are required. The final step, after any required testing, is to write a document of compliance.
Furthermore, the comprehensive annex includes in-depth information on specific matters such as recycled materials for food contact, testing conditions and an overview of the existence of national legislation and recommendations in different countries as well as links to the respective website information.