It all boils down to safety: Reducing the risks of sustainable kitchenware

Blog - It all boils down to safety: Reducing the risks of sustainable kitchenware

The global sustainability movement has also led consumers to pursue safe and reliable kitchen products that positively impact the planet. While consumers once shared a concern about risks associated with non-stick or aluminum materials, brands are now focusing on recycled materials and sustainable processes and whether they’re introducing new risks to kitchenware safety.

Demand for home cookware products is skyrocketing due to everything from the rise of home cooking during the pandemic to the growing popularity of cooking shows and modular kitchens. Consumers everywhere have been busy trying new recipes, improving their skills, and looking to replace their old cookware with new items.

Food Contact / Kitchenware - A highly regulated industry

The kitchen utensils and cookware segment has long been highly regulated, with strict standards in place to ensure products don’t jeopardize the health and safety of consumers. Since kitchenware often comes into direct contact with food, one of the key risks centers on the potential presence of chemicals in these materials that could potentially migrate to the foods they touch. Consumers tend to trust that the products they purchase are safe, but how can they be certain – especially amid constant changes to materials and processes driven by the sustainability push?

Most countries around the world have strict regulations for products and materials that come into contact with food, and the rules vary based on the country and material. For instance, products sold in the EU and the US need to follow regulations such as the EC No. 1935/2004 (the EU) and the FDA 21 CFR (the US). Different countries in the EU have additional regulations, such as the LFGB Law in Germany and the DGCCRF recommendations in France.

These regulations typically cover the most common kitchenware materials, such as plastics, silicone and rubbers, metals and alloys, ceramics, wood, paper and board, and varnishing and end coating. The specific criteria depends not only on the type of material but its intended use. For example, a regulation may consider whether a container is plastic or ceramic and if it’s intended to be used for aqueous food such as water or coffee, acidic foods like juice, or alcoholic beverages like beer or wine, and if it’s designed for hot or cold.

It might seem surprising, but risks are still identified today in destination markets, even for well-known brands. Such events can not only damage the brand’s image but can also generate additional risks if the brand is subject to a fine or a product recall. Not even major brands are immune to product recalls, such as the global furniture and décor brand that had a mug recalled from the market that was found to be potentially migrating excessive levels of dibutyl phthalate (DBP).

Sustainable materials and harmful substances

While the global shift toward sustainable products and a circular economy is great news for the planet, it’s bringing with it new risks that may put product safety in danger. As one of many examples, the use of recycled materials is subject to risks due to the lack of visibility over the materials’ origin and the potential use of harmful chemicals in the transformation of raw materials to finished goods.

So, how can brands align their quest for increased sustainability with the importance of product safety? Clear visibility over the supply chain, improved traceability, and scientific methods that help verify the origin of new materials and the potential presence of harmful substances are some of the trends gaining traction to ensure a future that’s both sustainable and safe.

Other risks to think about

While chemical risks often come to mind first when discussing food contact materials, kitchen accessories have some associated physical risks related to fatigue, corrosion, and heat resistance as well as thermal hazards. Simply put, they need to fit their expected use, meaning if they’re marketed as microwave-safe or dishwasher-resistant, they must be able to handle the heat or water without breaking or suffering damage. Physical risks are also frequently identified in the kitchenware market, with the most common recalls including the risk of injury and burns due to products breaking under heat exposure, or laceration hazards resulting from product cracks.

Going beyond compliance

The kitchen utensils and accessories industry is highly competitive, with numerous brands competing for consumer attention amid constant product redevelopments and price battles. This adds additional complexity for brands and retailers, highlighting the importance of innovation and fit-for-use to bring products to the market that meet consumer expectations.

In this challenging environment in which supply chains are under constant pressure and shipping delays put delivery times at risk, ensuring product quality and safety before the end of production is key, so you ‘get it right the first time.’

API’s specialized solutions for kitchenware

API helps brands and retailers ensure their kitchenware’s safety, quality, and performance with tailor-made solutions. Some of our key areas of support include:

  • Laboratory testing: Testing according to EU/US or country-based directives to maintain chemical and physical safety, as well as testing with specific protocols to ensure performance and fit-for-use.

    Two of our latest innovations to support brands and retailers in their sustainability journeys include:
    – Recycled polyester testing to verify and quantify the amount of recycled polyester in your products.
    – Chem Scan Check – a scientific screening method that can detect 285+ substances in a single test to ensure there are no unexpected harmful substances.

  • Product development support: Identification of critical areas and recommendations for adjustment at the design or purchase stage.
  • Technical Compliance File: Documentation review that attests product compliance according to protocol definitions, from document collection and verification to report issuance.
  • Factory audits: Factory evaluations that assess factory capabilities to meet production standards and deliver safe products on time.
  • Dedicated programs: Bespoke programs based on each client’s needs that provide support at every stage of the supply chain.

Interested in learning more about API’s kitchenware solutions?