Chocolate, like any other food, falls under U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) issues regulations and recommended guidelines for the packaging of foods such as chocolate. Requirements for chocolate packaging involve substances that come into contact with the food, irradiation techniques and the use of recycled plastics in packaging.
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Food Contact Safety
CFSAN requires any substance used in chocolate packaging to be ruled as safe. "Safe" is defined in FDA regulations as a "reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that a substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use." Substances that must be ruled safe include polymers, can coatings, adhesives, materials used during the manufacture of paper or paperboard, antimicrobial agents such as slimicides as well as biocides and sealants for lids and caps. Additionally, the FDA issued guidelines on the usage of recycled plastics in food packaging but has not established requirements as of February 2011.
Food Contact Notification Regulations
The manufacturer or its legal representative must submit a food contact notification (FCN) to CFSAN at least 120 days before it sells the packaged chocolate on the open market. The FCN must include detailed toxicological, chemical and environmental information about the planned packaging. The document should contain a concise summary of the scientific reasoning behind the manufacturer's safety determination for the packaging and address any potential mutagenicity or carcinogenicity issues. Possible risks and impurities do not mean automatic disapproval of the packaging. The FDA considers the estimated intake of the substance to determine if the amount of exposure constitutes a health risk. Further, high-risk packaging usually means further testing. Of course, vendors may prefer to change the proposed packaging to obtain faster approval.
Irradiation uses gamma rays or electron beams to destroy harmful bacteria, fungi and insects in foods such as chocolate. Its usage does not cause any known harm to consumers. However, the FDA requires irradiation must be in conformity with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act , which prescribes safe conditions of use. The FDA regulates amounts of radiation for both food and its packaging to keep exposure at safe levels.
The FDA requires labelling the nutritional contents of the packaged chocolate on the exterior packaging. This label must note serving size, servings per container, fat content and a nutrient declaration of vitamins and minerals. Small businesses with revenues below £32,500 per year are exempt from this regulation. The FDA also recommends an ingredient list but does not require one.
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