What should a food business do if they are being investigated by a local authority for contaminated product?
If your regulator comes knocking over one of your products that has been found to be possibly contaminated and not fit-for-purpose, you should immediately preserve all your production records, distribution records, packaging records and likewise in relation to how the product came in to your premises originally.
Also, preserve all records of who else received product from the same source and possibly alert them, as well as your contractual records with the end-user.
It’s vital to identify all staff who were part of the production and ensure your premises are fit-for-purpose. Remember to fully cooperate with any inspection and make contemporaneous notes of any visit.
Try to find out from your regulator the exact reason for the visit and possible consequences as early as possible in the process. Be open, honest and accurate, but be careful what answers you give to any questions during the visit.
Research your historical inspection records before the meeting and keep a full log of all activity on the matter with all parties. Share your information with the owners and/or decision-makers at the business.
Most importantly, do not panic, but keep calm and reach out for specialist professional advice.
Try to strategise early on and do not be obstructive or confrontational. Remember, help can be close at hand and doing nothing or doing the wrong thing may not help.
Sefton Kwasnik is a partner at Manchester-based BPS Law.
What are the international regulations affecting the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials?
BPA is an industrial chemical used primarily in the manufacture of polycarbonate (PC) plastics and epoxy resins. It has long been recognised as a substance that can cause damage to foetuses, babies and young children because of its oestrogenic hormone-like properties and effects on brain development.
When used in food contact materials, studies have shown that BPA can be released into food and beverages. This can be especially true when hot water is added to formula milk powder in a baby bottle containing BPA.
Regulations vary from region to region. In the EU, relevant regulations regarding its restriction include: food contact plastics ≤ 0.05 mg/kg; food contact varnished or coated products ≤ 0.05 mg/kg; and prohibited-for-food contact varnished or coated materials and articles for young children for food categories; and PC drinking cups or bottles for infants and young children. Some EU member states also have further bans on BPA.
In the US, it gets even more complicated with some states and counties having different regulations. At a federal level, epoxy resins that are derived from BPA and epichlorohydrin are prohibited as coatings in packaging for powdered and liquid infant formula.
Hing Wo Tsang is global information and innovation manager at SGS.