By Allergen Bureau

Do Biodegradable Food Contact Materials Pose a Risk for Coeliacs? 

Plastic food packaging has been widely used for the past five decades. Due to environmental concerns, it is increasingly being replaced by plant-based alternatives. Laboratory testing of foods with biodegradable packaging and single-use tableware made from wheat by-products have revealed that gluten can migrate into food from packaging. 

The Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS) recently hosted a webinar that presented information about the limitations in current legislation in food contact materials (FCMs) as it relates to allergens. Results from laboratory testing of gluten migration from FCMs into foods were presented. 

While EU regulation for materials in contact with food currently stipulates that they ‘must be safe’, there is currently no consideration of FCMs containing gluten or other allergenic plant proteins, nor any requirement to label the packaging with information about its content. 

It was proposed that because the use of such bioplastics is still emerging, now is the best time to introduce regulations that will protect people with coeliac disease and other food hypersensitivities. 

Following the webinar (that can be accessed here), Secretary General at Association of European Coeliac Societies, Verónica Rubio, published a guest article on the topic that features on the European Public Health Alliance website

A further article on the topic “Can biodegradable food packages contaminate gluten free food?” is available on the AOECS website