On 16.8.19 the decree of the Ministry of Health 9.5.19 n. 72. Which updates the Ministerial Decree 21.3.1973, in relation to stainless steel allowed in the production of MOCA (Materials and Objects in Contact with Food). The news in Italy and the serious gaps in Europe.
Stainless steel in MOCA, Ministry of Health decree 9.5.19 n. 72
The Ministry of Health, by decree no. 9, updates the list of stainless steels allowed to come into contact with food. (2019) Better late than never, pending a systematic review of national regulations. In light of the European regulation that reformed the general discipline to oversee the safety of MOCAs and those who followed you. (2)
Annex I of the decree in question, 'Section 6 - Stainless steels', completely replaces Annex II of the decree of the Ministry of Health of 21 March 1973,'relating to the hygiene regulations of packaging, containers, utensils intended to come into contact with food substances or substances for personal use'. The new text identifies the single types of steel admitted by making use of the relative abbreviations, which characterize their chemical composition. Based on the following standards and technical specifications, to which explicit reference is made:
- UNIEN 10088-1: 2014 (Stainless steels, list of stainless steels),
- AISI (American Iron and Steel Institute) standard, steel classification manual, 08-1985,
- ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), Technical specifications,
- UNS (Unified Numbering System), Combined Nomenclature.
The update introduces new types of stainless steel that can be used for contact with food, in MOCAs and also in machinery and tools for food processing. (3) The situations and conditions under which specific migration tests must be carried out are also specified. To determine the suitability of some types of metal in relation to the specific possible intended uses. An example above all is AISI 316LK stainless steel, which can only be used for the production of parts of valve components in contact with water.
Other steels - which appear in part B of Annex I - can only be used for the production of cutlery or for the production of components for grinding meat. The same Annex I introduces important changes in the table of elements'not intentionally added'. In relation to which admissibility and tolerance thresholds are defined in the final casting. In compliance, always and in any case necessary, with the migration limits established in Ministerial Decree 21.3.73 (art. 36).
MOCA and machinery for the food industry. The gaps in Europe
The so-called mutual recognition clause it is also introduced by the new decree of the Ministry of Health, supplementing the previous one (Ministerial Decree 21.3.73 (art. 36).
'The provisions referred to in this chapter do not apply to stainless steel items legally manufactured and marketed, manufactured or marketed in a member state of the European Union or in Turkey or legally manufactured in one of the signatory states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) , a contracting party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), provided they ensure an equivalent level of health protection. ' (4)
It has been expected for 15 years now a harmonized and specific regulation, at EU level, of the different categories of materials allowed to come into contact with food. (5) Imports from non-EU countries, large producers of stainless steel as well as plastics, continue to grow. And official public controls in Europe are unable to guarantee a safety level of FCMs in line with the objectives of public health protection already defined in the White Paper for food safety (12.2.00).
The European Commission recognizes the inadequacy of controls - at borders, as in the Internal Market (6) - yet continues its inaction from proposing the necessary policies and regulatory measures. Meanwhile, Italian producers of MOCA and machinery for the food industry continue to face competition from operators subject to 'soft legislation'. Unfair competition by law, indeed due to lack of law (at EU level), which affects the competitiveness of our factories but also public health.
Dario Dongo and Luca Foltran
Footnotes to the story
(1) See decree no. 9. Regulation updating the decree of the Minister of Health of 21 March 1973, containing: "Hygienic regulation of packaging, containers, utensils, intended to come into contact with food substances or substances for personal useand", limited to stainless steels. In GU 1.8.19, General Series, n. 179, on https://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/eli/id/2019/08/01/19G00079/sg
(2) See reg. CE 1935/04, concerning materials and articles intended to come into contact with food and repealing Directives 80/590 / EEC and 89/109 / EEC
(3) In this regard, reference is made to the definition of 'food' offered by General Food Law (EC reg. 178/02, article 2)
(4) Ministerial Decree 9.5.19, n. 72. Article 2, paragraph 1-bis
(5) As an example, we cite the cases of paper and derivatives, as well as the shame of endocrine disruptors. See previous articles https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/imballaggi/contaminanti-nei-materiali-a-contatto-con-gli-alimenti-carta-cartone-e-inchiostri-rapporto-beuc, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/sicurezza/interferenti-endocrini-consultazione-a-bruxelles
(6) For the latest updates on the program of controls on MOCAs prescribed by the European Commission to Member States, and its reasons, see EU Recommendation 2019/794. V. https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/imballaggi/sicurezza-materiali-e-oggetti-a-contatto-con-gli-alimenti-raccomandazione-ce