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EU Legislation - Plastic Kitchenware Imports from China and Hong Kong

New EU legislation covering plastic kitchenware imports from China and Hong Kong from July 2011

The European Commission, on 22 March 2011, published a new Commission Regulation setting out conditions for the importation of plastic kitchenware from China and Hong Kong. See Commission Regulation (EU) No 284/2011

The controls come into effect on the 1 July 2011. From this date imports will have to be accompanied by a declaration and analytical results to confirm that they are compliant with limits on the release of harmful chemicals.

The Food Standards Agency is responsible for issuing UK law which will set out the arrangements for the enforcement of the EC Regulation. This new law will be enforced by Port Health. Customs will have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that controlled consignments are not released for free circulation without confirmation that the consignment is compliant.

Whilst the UK law has not yet been published, the main requirements from the EC Regulation are directly applicable, and establish the following requirements.

Controlled Products

The regulation will apply to polyamide and melamine plastic kitchenware that falls under CN code ex 3924 10 00 (tableware and kitchenware).

Plastic kitchenware is defined as plastic materials and articles which, in the finished product state, are intended to come into contact (or are brought into contact) with foodstuffs; and are intended for that purpose.

Plastic materials and articles are defined as:-

materials and articles and parts thereof consisting exclusively of plastics;

plastic multi-layer materials and articles;

plastic layers or plastic coatings, forming gaskets in lids that together are composed of two or more layers of different types of materials (Paragraph 1 and 2 Article 1 Directive 2002/72)

Controlled Countries

Products originating in or consigned from China and Hong Kong are controlled.

Import Controls

Imports of controlled consignments will only be permitted where the consignment is accompanied by a declaration and a laboratory report demonstrating compliance with the limits set down in the law. (A model of the declaration is set out in the EC Regulation.)

Prior Notification

The importer is required to notify Port Health of the estimated date and time of physical arrival of the consignment 2 working days in advance.
What are the limits that apply?

Polyamide kitchenware
The report must demonstrate that the item does not release into foods (or food simulants) primary aromatic amines in a detectable quantity. (The detection quantity is 0.01mg/kg.)

Melamine kitchenware
The report must demonstrate that they do not release into foods (or food simulants) formaldehyde in a quantity exceeding 15 mg/kg.

Checks on Imports

Checks will be carried out as follows:-

* Documentary checks on 100% of consignments
* Identity and Physical checks (including laboratory analysis) on 10% of consignments (these will be selected at random)

Completion of checks

Port Health will be required to endorse the declaration indicating whether the goods are acceptable or not. A copy of this declaration will need to be supplied to Customs as evidence that the checks have been completed. (A secure arrangement to provide a release message may be made on agreement between Port Health and Customs.)

Release pending the results of checks

The Regulation permits the release of consignments to the point of destination under legal controls pending the results of any sampling and analysis carried out.

Fees

There will be a fee for the checking of documentation under the Regulation. These are yet to be confirmed by the Port Health authorities.

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