China publishes new drafts that will regulate printing inks and bamboo, wood and cork in food contact materials

On October 15, 2020, the Chinese National Food Safety Standards Review Committee published four standards related to food contact materials. These drafts will be open for public discussion until November 30, 2020.

Below, we describe the most relevant details:

  1. Composite materials and articles: Applies to materials and articles with two or more layers. It is expected to replace the GB 9683-1988 standard. Among other aspects, it establishes that the substances used in each layer must comply with its corresponding GB standard (for example, the paper layer must comply with the GB4806.8 standard); Additives must comply with the GB 9685 standard. In addition, the type of material used in each layer must be identified in the order from the direct food contact layer to the outer layers, with a “/”between each layer. The special use requirements of each layer must also be clearly labeled in its entirety.
  2. Printing inks: This draft is published in China for the first time and applies both to printing inks that are going to be in direct contact with food and in indirect contact, if it is expected that its components may migrate to food. The content of this draft includes scope, terms and definitions, product classification, basic requirements, technical requirements and others. The proposed requirements differ depending on the type of printing ink. Raw materials and basic additives for printing inks that will be in direct contact with food must comply with the GB 2760-2014 standard. Furthermore, resins used in indirect contact printing inks must be authorized for use on materials intended for contact with food (GB 4806.6-2016). Dyes based on Pb, Hg, Cd, Cr, As, Sb, Se and their compounds are not allowed in printing inks that will be in direct contact with food.The additives and purity of the colorants used in indirect contact printing inks shall comply with the GB 9685 standard for the use of additives in food contact materials and articles. The type of printing ink (direct or indirect contact) should be included on your labels.
  3. Paper and cardboard. This new draft is expected to replace the current GB 4806.8-2016. The proposed amendment includes modifications to the requirements related to the residual limits of various substances, the consumption parameters for permanganate and heavy metals and the global migration limit for materials intended for infants and young children.
  4. Bamboo, wood and cork. Included in this new draft are articles that use bamboo, wood or cork as raw materials. Compared with the previous draft, published in 2016, it introduces several changes to the substances subject to limitation, and clarifies the
    scope of the limitations applicable to microorganisms, which affect only items that come into direct contact with food.

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