Food Law News - EU - 2010

FSA News Item, 13 April 2010

CONTAMINANTS - Revised EC measures on guar gum

The European Commission has revised its import control measures for guar gum imported from India.

This follows an incident in summer 2007 in which dioxin contamination was discovered in Indian guar gum, a thickening agent used in a wide range of processed foods. Although there was no immediate risk to health, large numbers of food products, including yoghurts and fruit drinks, were withdrawn from sale all over Europe.

The high dioxin levels were linked to contamination of the guar gum with pentachlorophenol (PCP), a fungicide banned from use in food and feed. In October 2007, inspectors from the European Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) visited India to investigate the source of the contamination. They discovered a number of possible causes and made recommendations for improvements to the Indian authorities. A further visit by FVO inspectors in October 2009 found that this issue is ongoing, as these improvements will take time to bring in.

Although there has been no further contamination, in order to prevent a repeat of the 2007 incident, the Commission decided that all consignments of guar gum imported into Europe from India should be subject to controls to ensure the absence of PCP.

India produces between 80% and 90% of the world’s guar gum, a total of about 200,000 tonnes per year.

The following is a separate more detailed statement from the FSA

Importing guar gum and food containing guar gum from India

12 April 2010

Safeguard controls on guar gum and products that contain guar gum apply from 15 April 2010.

These controls implement Regulation (EU) No. 258/2010

For consignments which leave India before 15 April 2010 the measures set out in Decision 2008/352/EC apply.

Consignments of guar gum (the thickening agent E412) falling within CN code 1302 32 90, and compound mixtures containing at least 10% guar gum originating in or consigned from India, and dispatched from India on or after 15 April 2010 must be accompanied by a health certificate certifying that the product being imported does not contain more than 0.01 mg/kg pentachlorophenol (PCP). This certificate must be signed by an authorised representative of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India and shall be valid for up to 4 months from the date of issue.

Consignments must also be accompanied by an analytical report, issued by a laboratory accredited according to EN ISO/IEC 17025 for the analysis of PCP indicating the results of sampling and analysis for the presence of PCP, the measurement uncertainty of the analytical result as well as the limit of detection and limit of quantification of the analytical method.

The analysis must have been performed on a sample taken by the Indian competent authorities from the consignment, and analysed in accordance with the method referred to in Regulation (EU) 258/2010.

All consignments must be identified by a code, which must be indicated on the health certificate, on the analytical report containing the results of sampling and analysis, on any accompanying commercial documents as well as on each individual bag or packaged form of the consignment.

In addition, feed and food business operators are required to pre-notify the entry control point in England, providing the estimated date and time of arrival of the consignment. Operators also need to be aware that approximately 5% of consignments will be randomly sampled for identity and physical checks and that they will be responsible for bearing all costs resulting from these official controls including sampling, analysis, storage and any measures taken following non-compliance.

Furthermore feed and food business operators must provide custom authorities with evidence that official controls have been carried out and results from any physical checks undertaken are favourable in order for the release of the consignments into free circulation.

To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.