A practical guide for manufacturers and regulators

Metals and alloys are used in food contact materials and articles in food processing equipment, containers and household utensils as well as in foil used to wrap food. Metal ions can be released from these materials, into foods and, if the release exceeds the toxicological reference values, it may endanger the health of the consumer or unacceptably alter the composition of the food or its organoleptic characteristics.

The technical guide covers general provisions and recommendations which can assist national policy makers to adopt legislative and other measures aimed at reducing the health risks arising from consumer exposure to certain metal ions released into food from the contact with metals and alloys. It also provides technical information on specific release limits (SRLs) for metals and analytical methods for release testing of food contact materials and articles made from metals and alloys.

The technical guide was prepared by the former Committee of Experts on Food Contact Materials (P-SC-EMB) with the support of the former Consumer Health Protection Committee (CD-P-SC), the Steering Committee with responsibility for these activities. This guide supersedes the previously established Guidelines on Metals and Alloys (first issued on 9 March 2001 and revised on 13 February 2002 under the former Council of Europe Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field).

A revised second edition, supplementing Council of Europe Resolution CM/Res(2020)9,  is underway under the aegis of the European Committee for Food Contact Materials and Articles (CD-P-MCA) work programme.


A Slovenian version* is available online for free, thanks to the Slovenian Ministry of Health. For more information, please click here.


* Disclaimer

The official languages of the Council of Europe are English and French.

These translations into non-official languages were produced by national government agencies or commercial publishers in the countries concerned, with the permission of the EDQM. The only authoritative versions of these titles are those published by the EDQM, which assumes no liability for any discrepancies between the translations into non-official languages and the English version.

Links were correct at the time of publication. The EDQM is not responsible for the content of external websites.


Visit the EDQM’s Free Publications page to download the latest information on analytical methods and guidance documents under the tab “Food contact materials and articles”. 

The paper version of "Metals and alloys used in food contact materials and articles" is available for purchase at the EDQM Store. A Slovenian version of this guide is available online for free, thanks to the Slovenian Ministry of Health. For more information, please click here.