Food Law News - EU - 2009

FSA Stakeholder E-mail, 10 August 2009

CONTAMINANTS – FSA Update on Developments with EU Mycotoxin Controls

Please find below a short summary of recent developments as regards EU policy on mycotoxins.

Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006 as regards aflatoxins

The draft amending legal text is still under discussion. As previously reported via our Interested Parties' letters, maximum limits for oilseeds are incorporated in the draft legal text with limits of 2 ppb for aflatoxin B1 and 4 ppb for total aflatoxin. Oilseeds for further processing are also included with limits of 8 ppb and 15 ppb for aflatoxin B1 and total aflatoxin respectively. In both cases, application of the limits does not apply for oilseeds [and groundnuts] for crushing for refined vegetable oil production.

The draft text under discussion also includes the revision of maximum limits for tree nuts and in particular the possibilities for the inclusion of Brazil nuts, all tree nuts or only hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios as agreed at Codex. It is proposed that separate maximum limits for B1 will be retained for the immediate future but that this will be kept under review.

It is possible that negotiations will be concluded at the next Expert Working Group on Agricultural Contaminants, which is currently scheduled for September and a subsequent vote in early autumn.

Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006 as regards ochratoxin A

The issue of setting maximum limits for ochratoxin A in spices was discussed at both Expert Working Group on Agricultural Contaminants on 8 June and 15 July. A draft amending legal text is currently under discussion, which includes a maximum limit in spices of 30 ppb, which would be applicable from 1 July 2010. In addition, the current draft wording proposes a review to take place before 1 July 2012 with a view to establishing a level of 15 ppb, to reflect the application of good practice to prevent ochratoxin A formation, unless food business operators can demonstrate that this lower level is not achievable by applying good practice.

A category for mixed spices that includes any of those cited in the annex is also proposed for ochratoxin A, as well as aflatoxins.

Maximum limits for liquorice root (20 ppb) and liquorice extract (80ppb) are also proposed as part of the amending text under discussion.

Commission Regulation (EC) No. 401/2006 laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of the levels of mycotoxins in foodstuffs

A draft legal text has been drawn up to reflect the changes under discussion as described above and those agreed at Codex - please see previous Interested Parties' letters for further details. It is intended that the document will be voted on and will come into force at the same time as the changes described above.

Commission Decision 2006/504/EC

A draft legal text has been proposed by the Commission to align Commission Decision 2006/504/EC with the newly adopted Commission Regulation (EC) No. 669/2009. The latter implements Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the increased level of official controls on imports of certain feed and food of non-animal origin (high-risk list) and amends Decision 2006/504/EC. For more information on this please see

The draft text is proposed as a Regulation, which would repeal and replace Decision 2006/504/EC. In reviewing the frequency of physical checks currently set out in the Decision, the Commission have assessed the data set available, including information from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, the degree and frequency of non-compliance and any FVO inspection missions that have been carried out. The proposed revised frequencies include:

Measures for increased control for peanuts from Brazil have been moved to the annex to Commission Regulation (EC) No. 669/2009.

Aside from the measures to align the legislation with Commission Regulation (EC) No. 669/2009, some additional changes are currently proposed, which include:

The Agency is currently considering the proposed draft Regulation to inform on negotiations, and as part of this is also consulting with Port Health Authorities on the alignment. We would welcome comments from stakeholders on the draft Regulation and the proposed changes to the frequencies.

It is intended that the document will be voted on in the autumn with the aim of it coming into force at the same time as Commission Regulation (EC) No. 669/2009.

Commission Guidance Document on Official Controls for aflatoxins

This will be updated and published in line with the amendments to Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006, and the corresponding sampling and analysis Regulation, as well as the proposed Regulation replacing and repealing Commission Decision 2006/504/EC. Please note: As a correction to the June Interested Parties' letter, Conversion Services will not be removed from the list of establishments able to perform sorting/physical treatment to reduce aflatoxin content, but will only be able to perform sorting and further processing of tree nuts, dried fruit and seeds and not peanuts.

Review of Fusarium toxin maximum limits in Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006

No further discussions took place at the last Working Group meeting on the review. The Commission has confirmed that it will make a request to EFSA for an updated risk appraisal as regards T2 and HT2 toxins as part of the negotiations on the setting of maximum limits for these toxins. Discussions on T2 and HT2 toxins and the review of current limits for deoxynivalenol and zearalenone are likely to recommence in the autumn.

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