What are the regulations for “intelligent packaging”?
Recent technological developments have allowed the food industry to create “active” packaging to prolong food quality and shelf life. Active packaging interacts with food to reduce oxygen levels or add flavourings or preservatives. “Intelligent” packaging can monitor the food and transmit information on its quality. Fresh foods sometimes produce gas or moisture inside the packaging as they age naturally. This can encourage microorganisms to grow. For example, oxygen can cause bread and pizza crusts to grow mould. It also causes vegetable oils to go rancid and makes other foods lose their flavour. Some types of active packaging contain oxygen scavengers which absorb the gas the food releases. It cuts down the risk of food poisoning and it also helps the food keep its flavour for longer. Intelligent packaging can change colour to let the customer know how fresh the food is and show if the food has been spoiled because of a change in temperature during storage or a leak in the packaging.
Since December 2004 a new EU framework regulation on food-contact materials is in effect. The new Framework Regulation also sets forth definitions for active and intelligent packaging materials as well as certain requirements for the use of these materials in the EU. Namely, the Framework Regulation calls for these materials to be the subject of a specific directive governing their use, and the Regulation sets forth labeling requirements and mandates that their use must not mislead the consumer. U.S. regulation includes no special provisions for active or intelligent packaging systems.
For more information:
EU Framework regulation on food-contact materials now in effect
To see the full text of the 14-page published version of the regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union:
Active and intelligent packaging: A U.S. and EU perspective