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Plastics Recommendations now also available in English on the Internet

07/2003, 31.03.2003

No charge for access to the database via the BfR homepage

Joint Press Release of the German Centre for Documentation and Information in Agriculture and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

Coffee filters and coffee cups, beverage bottles, greaseproof paper, non-stick frying pans and packaging films all have one thing in common: they come into contact with food. In the course of this contact no substances may migrate to the food, which could constitute a health risk for the consumer when the food is eaten at a later stage. "Commodities" are, therefore, subject to strict guidelines and controls. Where no statutory regulations have as yet been elaborated on the national or European levels, the Plastics Recommendations of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, formerly BgVV, offer some direction. They are not legal norms; commodities which comply with the recommendations can however be considered safe according to the knowledge available today. If they fail to comply with these recommendations, responsibility for any complaints on the grounds of food law lies solely with the manufacturer and user. BfR has now made the Plastics Recommendations available free-of-charge in English, too, on the Internet - in response to numerous inquiries from all over the world.

The first "Recommendations for the health assessment of plastics and other high polymers" were elaborated back in 1958 and since then have grown into a complex collection. They contain information on the scope, use or prohibition of use of specific substances as well as on maximum levels for their content and safe migration to foods. Recommendation XXXVI (Roman numeral 36) applies, for instance, to paper and board for food contact. It contains information on raw papermaking materials which may be used, on the type and volume of permitted paper additives and on special paper coating and finishing substances. For substances of special health relevance, limits have moreover been laid down for their migration to foods. The recommended maximum levels are based on risk assessments by the Institute which takes advice from its Plastics Committee when elaborating the recommendations.

The online version of the Plastics Recommendations is a completely revised one. The references to the legal provisions correspond to the latest situation in Germany and the European Union. As far as possible, the substances have been listed with their CAS numbers (Chemical Abstract Service) which means that it is possible to search by substance name and by CAS number (and, of course, using the Roman numerals of the Recommendations). The inclusion of new substances is undertaken on application by the manufacturer or processor to BfR. Interested companies can access more detailed information on the homepage of the Federal Institute (

The bilingual database has been implemented with the support of the German Centre for Documentation and Information in Agriculture (ZADI, Bonn). It can be accessed free of charge from the homepage of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Menu Databases/Plastics Database). The Recommendations can be downloaded. Commercial utilisation is not permitted without the consent of BfR.