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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21

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The information on this page is current as of Jun 07, 2023.

For the most up-to-date version of CFR Title 21, go to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR).

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Help | More About 21CFR
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 21, Volume 6]
[CITE: 21CFR509.15]



Subpart A - General Provisions

Sec. 509.15 Use of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) in establishments manufacturing food-packaging materials.

(a) Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) represent a class of toxic industrial chemicals manufactured and sold under a variety of trade names, including: Aroclor (United States); Phenoclor (France); Colphen (Germany); and Kanaclor (Japan). PCB's are highly stable, heat resistant, and nonflammable chemicals. Industrial uses of PCB's include, or did include in the past, their use as electrical transformer and capacitor fluids, heat transfer fluids, hydraulic fluids, and plasticizers, and in formulations of lubricants, coatings, and inks. Their unique physical and chemical properties and widespread, uncontrolled industrial applications have caused PCB's to be a persistent and ubiquitous contaminant in the environment, causing the contamination of certain foods. In addition, incidents have occurred in which PCB's have directly contaminated animal feeds as a result of industrial accidents (leakage or spillage of PCB fluids from plant equipment). These accidents in turn caused the contamination of food products intended for human consumption (meat, milk and eggs). Investigations by the Food and Drug Administration have revealed that a significant percentage of paper food-packaging material contains PCB's which can migrate to the packaged food. The origin of PCB's in such material is not fully understood. Reclaimed fibers containing carbonless copy paper (contains 3 to 5 percent PCB's) have been identified as a primary source of PCB's in paper products. Some virgin paper products have also been found to contain PCB's, the source of which is generally attributed to direct contamination from industrial accidents from the use of PCB-containing equipment and machinery in food-packaging manufacturing establishments. Since PCB's are toxic chemicals, the PCB contamination of food-packaging materials as a result of industrial accidents, which can cause the PCB contamination of food, represents a hazard to public health. It is therefore necessary to place certain restrictions on the industrial uses of PCB's in establishments manufacturing food-packaging materials.

(b) The following special provisions are necessary to preclude the accidental PCB contamination of food-packaging materials:

(1) New equipment or machinery for manufacturing food-packaging materials shall not contain or use PCB's.

(2) On or before September 4, 1973, the management of establishments manufacturing food-packaging materials shall:

(i) Have the heat exchange fluid used in existing equipment for manufacturing food-packaging materials sampled and tested to determine whether it contains PCB's or verify the absence of PCB's in such formulations by other appropriate means. On or before Sept. 4, 1973, any such fluid formulated with PCB's must to the fullest extent possible commensurate with current good manufacturing practices be replaced with a heat exchange fluid that does not contain PCB's.

(ii) Eliminate to the fullest extent possible commensurate with current good manufacturing practices from the establishment any other PCB-containing equipment, machinery and materials wherever there is a reasonable expectation that such articles could cause food-packaging materials to become contaminated with PCB's either as a result of normal use or as a result of accident, breakage, or other mishap.

(iii) The toxicity and other characteristics of fluids selected as PCB replacements must be adequately determined so that the least potentially hazardous replacement is used. In making this determination with respect to a given fluid, consideration should be given to (a ) its toxicity; (b ) the maximum quantity that could be spilled onto a given quantity of food before it would be noticed, taking into account its color and odor; (c ) possible signaling devices in the equipment to indicate a loss of fluid, etc.; and (d ) its environmental stability and tendency to survive and be concentrated through the food chain. The judgment as to whether a replacement fluid is sufficiently non-hazardous is to be made on an individual installation and operation basis.

(c) The provisions of this section do not apply to electrical transformers and condensers containing PCB's in sealed containers.