Health assessment of food contact materials

PET bottles, cardboard packaging or aluminium foils - BfR informs about possible risks of materials and in particular their ingredients which come into contact with food. Special recommendations for the manufacturers of packaging materials are included in a dedicated database.

Packaging materials can contain substances which can result in health risks if they are released and absorbed by consumers through foods.

At BfR Unit 74 (Safety of Food-Contact Materials) assesses the health risk of these substance transfers.

BfR has published and compiled a series of opinions and reports on such materials.

Examples include

Further opinions are listed under the heading "Opinion" at the bottom of this page.

Basic requirements

In accordance with the applicable statutory framework provisions, food contact materials may not release any substances in normal or foreseeable uses which,

  • Constitute a health risk to consumers,
  • Lead to an unacceptable change in the composition of the food or
  • Impair foods in terms of odour, taste, texture or appearance (so called organoleptic properties).

Specific legally binding provisions currently exist, for instance, for plastics.


In a free-of-charge database BfR publishes recommendations for the production of materials which are not subject to any statutory provisions: "Database BfR Recommendations on Food Contact Materials".

Manufacturers can submit an application to BfR for the inclusion of certain substances into the recommendations. More detailed information, references to the current legal situation and contacts on this topic can be found on an info page.

Apart from recommendations on the use of certain substances, the database also includes information on test methods, for instance for materials which are used in the production of paper, carton and cardboard. With these methods, manufacturers can check whether the materials used by them qualify for food contact.

Legal bases

Opinion 28

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