Revision maximum levels certain contaminants in foodstuffs

08 August 2008

Chiara Klaui

The maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs, namely those for the metals lead, cadmium and mercury, have recently been amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No. 629/2008 (“Amending Regulation”).


Background


Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006 (“Regulation”) sets out the maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs. This Regulation is aimed at keeping the contaminants at levels which are toxicologically acceptable, in order to protect human health.


The maximum levels for certain contaminants are set at a strict level which is reasonably achievable by following good agricultural, fishery and manufacturing practices, whilst taking into account the risk related to the consumption of the food.


On the basis of new information, good agricultural and fishery practices do not allow the keeping of levels of lead, cadmium and mercury in certain aquatic species and fungi as low as required in the Annex to the Regulation. It is, therefore, necessary to revise the maximum levels fixed for those contaminants while still maintaining a high level of consumer health protection.


Amendments


The Amending Regulation sets out the following amendments:


  • Maximum levels of lead, cadmium and mercury allowed in certain aquatic species and fungi (with the exception of food supplements) have been revised as from 23 July 2008;
  • Seaweed accumulates cadmium naturally. Food supplements consisting exclusively or mainly of dried seaweed or of products derived from seaweed can therefore contain higher levels of cadmium than other food supplements. To take this into account, a higher maximum level for cadmium is set for food supplements consisting exclusively or mainly of seaweed. Since EU Member States and food business operators should be allowed time to adapt to the new maximum levels for food supplements, these levels will apply as from 1 July 2009;
  • Footnote 1 of the Annex to the Regulation will be amended in order to clarify that the maximum level for fruit does not apply to tree nuts; and
  • New monitoring recommendations have been introduced by Commission Recommendation 2007/196/EC on the monitoring of the presence of furan in foodstuffs and Commission Recommendation 2007/331/EC on the monitoring of acrylamide levels in food. The provisions on monitoring and reporting in the Regulation therefore need to be completed with references to those new Recommendations. The monitoring exercise on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons set out in Commission Recommendation 2005/108/EC has been finalised. Therefore, the reference to that monitoring Recommendation can be deleted.

Please find below a link to the Annex as set out in the Amending Regulation:
Commission Regulation (EC) No 629/2008