Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

Harmful chemicals could migrate from kitchenware into food.

Harmful chemicals could migrate from kitchenware into food.© EU

JRC's technical guidelines facilitate import controls for plastic kitchenware


Starting from 1st July 2011, the safety testing of polyamide and melamine plastic kitchenware imported from China and Hong Kong will be carried out according to technical guidelines laid down by the JRC. The guidelines are integrated into an official legal guidance document, published by the European Commission on Tuesday 21 June. It accompanies the EU Regulation No 284/2011 on procedures for the import of plastic kitchenware from China and Hong Kong, prior to its placement on the EU market.

The technical guidelines, drawn up by the JRC Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP), provide all practical information on sampling, migration testing and methodologies for the analytical determination of primary aromatic amines and formaldehyde, which may migrate into food from kitchenware.

Primary aromatic amines, released from polyamide, are a family of compounds, some of which are carcinogenic, while others are suspected carcinogens. The level of formaldehyde, released into food from melamine kitchenware imported from China, has been reported to be higher than authorised in the EU.

Developed by the European Reference Laboratory for Food Contact Materials (EURL-FCM) in collaboration with its Network of National Reference Laboratories, the guidelines are primarily addressed to official control, national reference and third party laboratories, to which they provide unified sampling and testing procedures for kitchenware made of polyamide and/or melamine.

In view of the heterogeneous nature and differentiated types of consignments of these articles, these guidelines represent an important development in the field of technical guidance for official controls. In particular, the harmonisation of sampling will greatly increase the level of confidence in guaranteeing the safety of imported goods, as well as in any ensuing legal decisions for articles non compliant with the EU legislation, when necessary.

For more information on JRC activities on Food Contact Materials visit the EURL-FCM website