The new rules would see the restriction of access – and, in some cases, outright bans – to disposable cups, glasses, trays, boxes and other food containers. More emphasis would be put on consumers to use their own reusable containers to transport food.
David McDowell, professor of food studies at Ulster University and chairman of the UK advisory committee on the microbiological safety of food, claimed a ban on or reduced access to food and drink service packaging would lead to increased risks of human foodborne illness.
‘Leaving behind bacteria’
“Even if they think they are doing the job properly, consumers typically fail to clean reusable containers adequately, leaving behind bacteria and viruses that you really don’t want near food,” said McDowell.
“They then carry this dangerous material around in reusable bags, alongside other items, which also present a high risk of cross-contamination. If consumers bring these containers for refill at takeaway food outlets, coffee shops or even use them with vending machines or water fountains, there is a high risk that these contaminants will be transferred to other people’s food.”
McDowell raised concerns that the EU’s proposals had not been subject to a detailed impact assessment for the hygiene, health and safety risks EU consumers might be subjected to unintentionally.
“These matters merit a much more considered and careful debate by EU legislators than has been the case to date. It would be prudent to avoid unnecessary risks with food safety and public health,” he added.
Meanwhile, a consultation on the potential amendments to food and animal feed law after the UK leaves the EU has been launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).