Bamboo Fibre as a Food Contact Material

Dinner Sets All Colours

A statement from Green Tones on the use of Bamboo Fibre as a food contact material following recent announcements by the EU.

In the interests of transparency, we would like to bring our customers up to date with recent developments regarding bamboo fibre tableware.

Bamboo Fibre is not one material. It is a composite of approximately 70% recycled bamboo, 10% organic corn starch and 20% high grade melamine resin.

Over the last 1-2 years, reports have circulated of low quality bamboo fibre homeware items being placed on sale in European markets.

These were falsely advertised and are not comparable to the high quality bamboo fibre products offered by reputable suppliers. Some contained unsuitable materials, such as low grade melamine, and failed the food contact migration tests our industry stands by.

There was no suggestion that correctly manufactured and tested products were implicated.

During their investigations, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) discovered that bamboo, along with other plant based materials such as wheat and rice husks, didn’t have its own classification for use as a food contact material when combined with a polymer.

In the instance of Bamboo Fibre, manufacturers, exporters and suppliers had assumed that classification as a wood flour or fibre was applicable, as allowed for in Annex I to Regulation (EU) No 10/2011.

The EFSA have declared this is no longer suitable, as bamboo is technically a grass. They now require a (potentially lengthy) formal process to be followed for bamboo flour and fibre to be added to their classification list.

In the interim, some EU member states have requested that bamboo fibre products be withdrawn from sale. In others, it is still widely available with an impetus being placed on suppliers to conduct appropriate food contact safety testing. This is the case in the UK, where EU regulation has been enshrined in law following Brexit.

Green Tones has been in contact with the UK Food Safety Agency in the last few months and is awaiting confirmation of their position. We have also contacted the European Food Safety Agency to offer any assistance required for the reclassification.

Unless instructed otherwise by the FSA, we will continue to offer our bamboo fibre homeware through retail and wholesale channels. Our products are tested to the highest food safety standards and there is no suggestion they are unsafe. We are extremely confident that the administrative process required for the reclassification of bamboo based products will be successfully completed.

Green Tones has always made its customers aware that their products contain a small amount of melamine resin.

Whilst Bamboo FIbre is not yet the perfect composite, it is far preferable to single use and or plastic products. Over time, we will be moving to a completely natural alternative, such as soybean glue, but these are not yet commercially viable.

These developments have no impact on products not used for food contact, such as our planters.

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