Ceramic and Vitreous FCMs

Ceramic and Vitreous FCMs

New initiative and impact assessment on: Migration limits for lead, cadmium and possibly other metals from ceramic and vitreous food contact materials

Ceramic and vitreous food contact materials (FCMs) include tableware and kitchenware such as plates, cups, mugs, glasses, jugs, bowls and oven trays. Vitreous materials include glass, crystal and materials with a glazed coating such as enamelled metals. Heavy metals such as lead and cadmium are used for technical (e.g. give shine, durability) or decorative purposes (e.g. colours). Therefore, there is a risk these metals transfer into food from ceramic and vitreous FCMs.

In this context, EU legislation on FCM provides that materials in contact with food "shall neither adversely affect consumer health nor influence the quality of the food", and "shall be manufactured under good manufacturing practices". The legislation also empowers the Commission to establish limits on the migration of chemicals from FCM into food. Legislation on ceramic food contact materials – Directive 84/500/EEC – sets such limits for lead and cadmium and ensures the safety of ceramic table and kitchenware.

However, recent scientific evidence and enforcement data indicate that the current exposure to lead, cadmium, and several other metals: aluminium, arsenic, barium, cobalt, chromium and nickel, released from FCMs is of concern. In addition, there is information showing that such metals also transfer from vitreous FCMs.

Therefore, based on current health data including opinions published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Commission is considering lowering the limits of lead, cadmium and introducing limits for aluminium, arsenic, barium, cobalt, chromium and nickel, allowed to transfer from ceramic and vitreous FCMs.

Impact assessment

The Commission published on 29 May 2019 its Inception Impact Assessment on this subject, which defines the problem to address and provides a first basis for further work towards a potential update of the present legislation (Directive 84/500/EEC). It included a 4-week public consultation, which allowed stakeholders to give feedback on our problem definition. Consultation closed on 26 June 2019.

The next step will be the preparation of an impact assessment, which will carefully assess the proposed policy options and form the evidence base for a possible decision on future policy.

To support this process, the Commission will continue close dialogue with all relevant stakeholder groups. This includes the ceramics and glass industries including businesses representing artisanal and traditionally produced articles, professional associations, citizens and consumers, relevant NGOs, as well as national competent authorities and relevant EU bodies.

Please view the Commission's consultation strategy.


Further information on this initiative and ceramic and vitreous FCMs.

Document title

Date of publication or event

Presentations used in preliminary discussions with targeted stakeholders in 2017


JRC report on testing approaches


JRC report on an inter-laboratory comparison exercise


JRC baseline report on FCMs


Summary of consultation on the inception impact assessment



For more information or specific questions on the evaluation, please email SANTE-FCM-EVALUATION@ec.europa.eu.