Our industry is involved in food contact in two ways: can coatings (direct food contact) and printing inks (typically indirect food contact). For the later we refer the reader to the dedicated website of EuPIA
Can coatings inside rigid metal packaging are essential to prevent the contact of food with the metal in order to maintain during long periods the essential nutritional and organoleptic properties of food. There is a significant difference in the aggressivity or corrosivity of different foods and beverages towards the metal substrate and coatings of metal packaging, and the different can, end and closure manufacturing methods require different coating properties. These coatings are very thin (1-20 μm = 5 to 100 times thinner that copier paper) and must present technical properties to fulfill the requirements of can manufacture (flexibility, resistance to pressure, chemical resistance etc.). The coatings are formed by applying a very thin layer of a solution or dispersion of ingredients in solvent or water to the metal surface which then passes through a high temperature oven (typically 200°C) where the solvent/carrier is driven off and the coating components react together forming an inert, impervious high performance protective thermoset polymer coating.
Can coatings in direct contact with food are designed to be safe and rigorously tested to ensure that they are. They fall under the scope of the EU Framework Regulation 1935/2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. Its Article 3 stipulates that these materials and articles shall be manufactured under good manufacturing practice in accordance with EU Regulation 2023/2006 and that they shall not endanger human health. Unlike plastics, there is no harmonised EU regulation that specifically regulates can coatings. However, some EU Member States have national legislations that CEPE Members shall comply with. Furthermore, CEPE members conduct self-assessments as part of the entire supply chain, making reference to the CEPE Code of Practice that stipulates what substances can be used and under which conditions.
A dedicated group within CEPE deals with Can Coatings issues. It is also part of the supply chain group, which from time to time forms sub-groups to work on specific subjects. Typical activities relate to providing science-based guidelines for consumer safety and improving trust and transparency.