Metal Packaging of Cosmetics and Food in the U.S.: What’s Safe?
In 1938 the U.S. Congress passed a new set of laws. These new laws were called the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FD&C. They gave the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) the ability and authority to manage and oversee the safety of all food, drugs and various cosmetic products.
The purpose of creating the FD&C Act was to help prevent tragedies. One such event resulted in over 100 patients dying due to the use of diethylene glycol to dissolve a sulfanilamide medication, so it could be used in liquid form.
The Evolution of the Law Over Time
Through the years, the FD&C Act has received several updated due to discoveries regarding certain ingredients, as well as the effectiveness of previously marketed pharmaceuticals.
In addition to updating information about ingredients, the FD&C is also updated to make sure that manufacturers are using the proper packaging, which is suitable for food contact and packaging techniques that are designed to ensure the public remains safe.
GRAS and FCS guidelines are included in the FD&C, to ensure all substances that come in contact with food are safe. The regulations must be followed when creating coatings used inside of metal packages, including those that are made from aluminum or tin.
Understanding FCS (Food Contact Substance)
While most food requires some type of packaging, the exposure to specific materials can result in it being dangerous or even toxic to eat. This is why oversight is needed regarding what substances are allowed to come in contact with various food products.
According to the FD&C Act, a Food Contact Substance is defined as being any substance that is used as a component of materials used for the manufacture of, packing, packaging, transport or holding of food, if the use of the substance isn’t supposed to have a technical effect on the food.
Understanding GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe)
This term is defined by the FD&C Act as any substance intentionally added to food, as an additive, that is required to undergo premarket review, as well as approval by the FDA unless the substance is recognized among experts as being safe under the conditions of its intended use.
Safety of Metal Packaging
More than 200 years ago, tinplate was first introduced as a material for the construction of food containers. However, when these containers were used, a common issue was food poisoning due to people ingesting too much metal. Due to this issue, physicians in Germany made the recommendation that tinplate should no longer be used as a food container.
Thanks to the technology innovations available today, the quality of tinplate that was originally used has improved significantly. Also, foods that are acidic that would normally eat the tin away are now housed in tinplate containers with an enamel coating. Unlike substances, such as iron and copper, tin isn’t considered an essential element that is necessary for the human diet. However, it has also been concluded that there are no long-lasting effects due to the ingestion of small amounts of tin that may be present in food or liquids packaged in tin containers.
Another non-essential metal for the human diet is aluminum, and it has a history of being fine for food contact. Aluminum has been labeled as GRAS by the U.S. FDA and is often found in food ingredients used for color and preserving certain foodstuffs.
At Tecnocap, we take pride in offering completely safe and tested metal caps and closures for food, beverages, spirits, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, industrial and household products. To learn more about our services, contact us today.