(L-R) David Clarinval, Deputy PM of Belgium; Claude Haagen, Luxembourg's Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture & Rural Development; Michael Stibbe, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Netherlands; Alain De Muyser, Secretary General of the Benelux Union;

On Monday 17 October 2022, within the framework of the Luxembourg Presidency of Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), Luxembourg's Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, Claude Haagen, signed a Benelux decision aimed at jointly implementing the Council of Europe resolution on metals and constituent alloys of materials or objects intended to come into contact with foodstuffs.

Minister Haagen signed on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Middle Classes, the Self-Employed, SMEs and Agriculture, Institutional Reforms and Democratic Renewal of the Kingdom of Belgium, David Clarinval, and the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ernst Kuipers, as well.

This Benelux decision aims to harmonise national legislation in the field of food safety. Consumers now enjoy the same high level of health protection in all three countries. Through this initiative, the Benelux hopes that other European Union (EU) Member States will eventually adhere to this legislation and then accept a higher level of consumer protection.

If the metal or alloy materials and packaging intended to come into contact with foodstuffs are specially designed for this purpose, such as table utensils, tin cans, aluminum foil or bags of crisps, they can, under certain conditions, unintentionally release contaminants or impurities into food and pose a risk to public health.

Currently, the rules applicable in Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands diverge. This initiative will harmonise the legislation applicable within the Benelux, thus offering maximum protection to consumers in terms of food safety. In addition, all companies in the Benelux will have clear and common rules, which will facilitate cross-border trade.

The Benelux is thus playing a pioneering role within the EU by becoming the first region to harmonise national rules in this area.

Minister Haagen said: "By harmonising the regulatory framework, the Benelux is becoming a pioneer within the European Union in the field of the safety of foodstuffs in contact with metal."

Minister Kuipers said: “I am happy that with this decision we are aligning our national legislations within the Benelux. In the Netherlands we have long wanted to harmonise our laws as much as possible, this decision is a good start”.

Minister Clarinval said: “Since February 2021 in Belgium, metal materials and objects and alloys intended to come into contact with foodstuffs are subject to specific legislation. In the Benelux, the same level of public health protection is guaranteed. I hope that European harmonisation will follow.”

Secretary General of the Benelux Union, Alain de Muyser, said: “One of the main concerns of Benelux is to be concerned about the well-being and safety of our citizens. Through concrete measures with a direct impact! In this case by promoting our health and working to harmonise our legislation and thus increase food safety for all consumers.”