Food Law News - EU - 2007

FSA Chemical Contaminants Interested Parties Letter, 13 August 2007

CONTAMINANTS August 2007 Update on on-going and forthcoming issues relating to environmental contaminants in food

The full letter containing detailed information is available on this site: August 2007 Contaminants Update. Brief details taken from the Contents Summary of the update are given below.

This interested parties letter contains information on on-going and forthcoming issues relating to environmental contaminants in food. This August 2007 edition contains updates following the meetings of:


Environmental Contaminants (inorganic contaminants)

1. Metals in certain foodstuffs

Revised maximum levels for lead and cadmium in mushrooms have now been agreed at Commission Working Group.

Two additional species of fish, Kingklip (Genypterus capensis) and pink cusk eel (Genypterus blacodes), have been added to the list for which the higher mercury level of 1.0mg/kg applies.

These proposals will be put forward for vote at the next meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.

2. Metals in food supplements

Discussions are progressing on the Commission proposals to set maximum levels for arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury in food supplements. The Commission has now produced 3 options for Member States to consider. Future supplements discussions could include setting contaminants levels for dried herbs, including tea.

Environmental Contaminants (organic contaminants)

3. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) gave a presentation of data of PAHs in food that had been submitted to them by Member States, and the UK presented the preliminary results from a research project, which suggested that high temperature cooking processes generally had little effect on PAH levels.

4. Requests received for modification of maximum levels for PAH

The Commission presented three related requests for relaxations of existing limits. The Africana Trade Organisation (ATO) had requested derogation for West African produce from the limit for smoked fish; the cocoa butter producers had requested that the derogation from the limit for vegetable oils was made permanent; and Latvia requested a relaxation of the limit for smoked fish to 10 ppb for canned smoked sprats.

5. PAHs in Food supplements

Maximum levels for PAHs in food supplements, herbs and spices and beverages were briefly discussed.

6. Dioxins in canned fish liver

Clarification was sought from the Commission as to whether the exclusion of fish liver from the dioxin limits in Regulation 1881/2006 was intended to apply to fish liver. The Commission stated that it was but uncertainty remains.

Agricultural Contaminants (mycotoxins)

7. Maximum levels for Fusarium toxins in maize and maize-based products

The working document was finalised and voted on at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 20th July. The Regulation will apply retrospectively from 1st July 2007. The limits will be reviewed by 1st July 2009 and limits for T2 and HT2 by 1st July 2008. We would be grateful for any data available on the occurrence of T2 and HT2 in foodstuffs as soon as possible.

8. Maximum levels for ochratoxin A in various foodstuffs

A draft Regulation setting maximum limits for ochratoxin A in liquorice and liquorice products and possible alternatives for maximum limits for ochratoxin A in certain spices has now gone for internal consultation within the Commission with a view to vote in Autumn. Two possible options are still under discussion. We would be grateful for your views on the options under consideration.

9. Amendment of Commission Decision 2006/504/EC on special conditions governing certain foodstuffs imported from certain third countries due to contamination risks of these products by aflatoxins

An amendment to Decision 2006/504/EC came into force on the 1st July 2007. A Declaration has been made under Regulation 33 of the Official Feed and Food Control ( England ) Regulations 2006 to bring it into effect in England .

10. Amendment of Commission Decision 2006/504/EC on special conditions governing almonds and derived products imported from the United States of America due to contamination risks of these products by aflatoxins

A second amendment to Decision 2006/504/EC, which covers almonds and derived products from the United States of America will come into force on 1 September.

11. Sampling Advice: Mycotoxins in foodstuffs

The Agency has published sampling advice for enforcement authorities and food business operators on the legislation regarding mycotoxins in foodstuffs and the official methods of sampling certain foods for mycotoxins.

12. Guidance document for competent authorities for the control of compliance with EU legislation on aflatoxins

A further update of the above document was agreed at the Standing Committee of the 20th July. As soon as this is published on the Commission website interested parties will be informed.

Process contaminants

13. Acrylamide issues

Updates on the European Commission acrylamide InfoBase, brochures on acrylamide reduction strategies and research examining the effect of domestic cooking on acrylamide levels in food.

14. EFSA opinion on Ethyl Carbamate

15. Furan data acceptance criteria

The document setting out criteria for EFSA to accept/reject data collected in the furan monitoring exercise has been finalised.

16. General issues

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