They are working documents only and they do not represent an agreed Commission position or firm proposals from the Commission. Rather, the working documents have been produced as an aid to initial discussions on possible options for controls on dioxins.
There are three working documents:
The working documents were discussed briefly at a meeting of the EC Working Group on Contaminants on Friday 23 March. The Commission gave an explanation of the background to the documents and answered general questions from Member States. A similar initial exchange of views on the principal elements of the proposals will take place at the EC Standing Committee for Foodstuffs on 23 April.
The Commission is taking forward parallel initiatives on dioxins in animal feed. Initial discussions on these took place on 26 March.
The Commission working documents deal with complex issues which will need very careful consideration. The FSA are circulating these working documents now to provide an opportunity for them to be considered at this early stage.
Extract from Working Document - Exploratory Memorandum
Therefore it is foreseen that the Commission will present later this year a comprehensive strategy to reduce dioxins in the environment, feed and food. This strategy would focus on two aspects:
However, measures need already to be taken at the level of the food and feed chain to limit the presence of dioxins in food and feed.
Proposed legislative measures
Besides the measures to limit the release of dioxins into the environment, the proposed measures for the reduction of dioxins and dioxin like PCBs in feed and food consist of a combination of:
In order to ensure that all operators in the food and feed chain continue to do efforts and take all the necessary measures to limit the presence of dioxins in feed and food, stricter maximum limits applicable within a period of 3-5 years time are proposed for the categories of contaminated feedingstuffs and foodstuffs which present the highest contamination and/or which contribute the most to dioxin exposure.
From a toxicological point of view, possible limits should include dioxins and dioxin-like PCB. However, as the data on the occurrence of dioxin-like PCBs are still very limited, in particular for feedingstuffs but also for foodstuffs, this approach may lead to unrealistic limits because the contribution of the dioxin-like PCBs to the total contamination load may be high (up to 4 times the dioxin contribution). But not acting immediately for dioxin-like PCBs should not prevent immediate action for dioxins. It is therefore pragmatic to propose measures in the meantime for dioxins, awaiting more comprehensive data for dioxin-like PCBs combined with an active approach to obtain these data.
These maximum limits will be laid down in a
In order to determine what has to be considered as an abnormal increased level, an action level has to be set. Exceeding the action threshold would also automatically imply an analysis of the dioxin-like PCBs in order to build up a reliable database. This will allow to adapt the current limits for dioxins to cover also dioxin-like PCBs in the future in accordance with the toxicological evaluation performed by SCF .
In addition, target levels should be set at a level such that they would result in a ultimate dietary human weekly exposure for the human population lower than 7 pg WHO-TEQ dioxins. (including dioxin-like PCBs). Target values will act as the driving force for measures necessary to further reduce emissions into the environment. With increasing decline of emissions, the distribution of the contamination levels for the different food groups will shift to lower levels and will (slowly) come closer to the target levels. As a result, the action thresholds and maximum limits might be revised after a certain period of time.
The action threshold levels and target levels are proposed to be laid down in a Commission Recommendation as a package with the Commission Directive/Regulation establishing maximum limits.
This Recommendation is based on Article 211 of the Treaty establishing the European Community .In accordance to this Article, the Commission can formulate recommendations on matters dealt with in the Treaty if the Commission considers it necessary .The recommendation should also list, besides the action levels and target levels) the means to reduce dioxin exposure (identification of sources, elimination of sources, analysis for dioxin-like PCBs).