Food Law News - EU - 2011

FSA Interested Parties Letter (IPA 0036), 16 September 2011

CONTAMINANTS - New EU Legislation as Regards Nitrate in Green Leafy Vegetables

A copy of the letter, including the copy of the agreed text, is available on this site. See: FSA Nitrates in Green Leafy Vegetables Letter.

I am writing to bring you up to date on recent developments as regards maximum levels for nitrate in green leafy vegetables.

A new EU Regulation has now been agreed at a Standing Committee meeting in Brussels. The new Regulation includes the following changes to the current Commission Regulation (EC) 1881/2006:

An increase in the maximum levels for nitrate in fresh spinach to 3,500 mg/kg (all year, no seasonal differences);

An increase in the maximum levels for nitrate in fresh lettuce (non-iceberg) to 5,000 mg/kg (winter protected); 4,000 mg/kg (summer protected); and 3000 mg/kg (summer outdoor);

An introduction of a maximum level for nitrate in rocket (rucola) of 6,000 mg/kg (summer harvested) and 7000 mg/kg (winter harvested);

The discontinuation of the derogation from the maximum levels for certain Member States including the UK, for produce grown and intended for consumption in the respective territories.

There are no changes to current maximum levels for nitrate in preserved, deep-frozen or frozen spinach, fresh lettuce (winter outdoor) or iceberg lettuce. The text as agreed is included in the annex to this letter.

The Regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, which is likely to be later on this autumn. All the changes to the maximum levels will apply from the date of its entry into force except the maximum levels for rocket, which will apply from 1 April 2012.

The UK will continue to monitor nitrate levels in green leafy vegetables in accordance with the Regulation. The Food Standards Agency will maintain dialogue with stakeholders including industry on the impact of the changes, particularly with regard to rocket and welcomes information on the investigation of agronomic practices to help reduce the levels of nitrate.

The FSA will formally consult on the impact of this regulation and the SI to bring in enforcement provisions. An impact assessment will be included with the consultation. We would welcome any information you can provide on the incremental impact of the European regulation, including additional costs, or potential benefits and any other relevant data or information in the attached questionnaire that can be used in the impact assessment.

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