Self-adhesive label industry association Finat has warned label printers that they could be struck off supplier rosters if they fail to comply with the latest EU food safety regulations.
The organization has issued guidance on the EU 10/2011 regulation on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, which came into force on 1 January 2013 and replaced Commission Directive 2002/72/EC and national legislation based on that directive.
Under the new legislation both direct food contact labels furnished with a plastic layer, as well as plastic labels applied to food packaging, require Declarations of Conformity (DoCs) stating which controlled but authorised substances are present in their make-up.
While the ultimate responsibility for checking that the packaging as a whole conforms to EU 10/2011, Finat stressed that label printers would be required to provide DoCs for their labels to enable tests for restricted substance levels and migration behaviour in specific environmental conditions to be carried out.
This means that food label printers supplying into the EU will need to secure DoCs from their labelstock and ink suppliers to be able to compile their own DoCs, which must also incorporate conformance information about any curing processes used during label production.
"It should be noted that the enactment of these regulations means that printers unable to supply DoCs cannot now be accepted as part of the end user’s supply chain, and may also leave themselves open to the financial repercussions of a product recall," said Finat.
"It is therefore essential for label printers to be proactive in obtaining and supplying the necessary documentation if they are to retain their place as responsible and viable links in the broader professional packaging chain."
According to Finat, the purpose of the regulation is to harmonise the different legislation that has existed previously within individual member states and make it easier for different countries to deal with each other in terms of the shipping of goods.
Finat president Kurt Walker said: "Clear communication in the food packaging supply chain has become essential. It is important for food label printers to discuss the intended application – directly on the food or on the outside of the food packaging- with the end customer to ensure the label is produced with the right inks and materials to conform with the food regulation rules for that particular application."