Ceram’s Study Convinces the EC to Re-think Lead and Cadmium Levels

EUROPE has agreed to re-think proposals that could have a serious effect on the UK tableware industry.

The EC was planning to introduce regulations lowering the allowable levels of lead and cadmium that can be released into food from ceramic products as early as next year. The European Commission wanted to decrease permissible levels by 60 times for cadmium and 400 times for lead - limits that are impossible and unnecessary, according to the industry and scientists.

Staffordshire-based materials technology company Ceram recently developed a technical programme to show that the EC's theoretical approach to the issue was flawed.

Ceram's findings have been instrumental in persuading Europe to think again, potentially protecting UK jobs and manufacturers, with the implementation of new limits pushed back to 2016. Ceram will also be involved in a comprehensive research programme that the EC is setting up through the EURL (European Reference Laboratory).

Dr Richard White, Head of Testing at Ceram, says:
"The European Commission had developed a theoretical approach to leaching of lead and cadmium and, as a result, had proposed levels that are 400 times lower for lead and 60 times lower for cadmium - levels that tableware manufacturers would find very challenging.

"We decided to put together a technical programme to give the UK tableware industry sound scientific evidence on which it could base its opposition to the proposals. We conducted a study of ‘factory gate' metal release values in acetic acid compared with ‘in service' leaching into acetic acid and into actual foods under realistic contact conditions. The results showed that levels of lead at ‘factory gate' can be 5-10 times higher than those proposed by the EC, while still attaining the ‘in-service' limit of 10 μg Pb/kg food that the EC sees as an acceptable limit."

Tony Kinsella, Chief Executive at Ceram, says:
"This work is yet another example of how our team of materials experts applies science to the commercial world. We have worked with our clients and with the British Ceramic Confederation and we will continue to work with them, providing sound scientific evidence and technical analysis, to ensure that a satisfactory outcome is reached for all parties."

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