Food Law News - EU - 2001


Standing Committee for Foodstuffs, 15 February 2001 - Summary record

CONTAMINANTS - Maximum Limits For Certain Contaminants

1. a) Opinion on a draft Commission Regulation amending Commission Regulation (EC) N 194/97 of 31 January 1997 setting maximum limits for certain contaminants (Ochratoxin A)

The draft Commission Regulation establishes a maximum limit for ochratoxin A of 5 g/kg for raw cereal grains and of 3 g/kg for derived cereal products (including processed cereal products and cereal grains intended for direct human consumption) and establishes provisionally a maximum limit of 10 g/kg for dried vine fruit (currants, raisins and sultanas), the latter to be reviewed before 31 December 2002.

The presence of ochratoxin A has also been observed in coffee, wine, beer, grape juice, cocoa and spices. Investigations and research have to be undertaken to determine the different factors involved in the formation of ochratoxin A and to determine the prevention measures to be taken to reduce the presence of Ochratoxin A in these foodstuffs. It is foreseen to review the provisions before 31 December 2002 with a view to include a maximum limit for ochratoxin A for these products taking into account the outcome of the investigations and the prevention measures taken.

The measures have been notified to the WTO for comments (G/SPS/EEC/104) and comments were received from the US, Turkey, Nicaragua, Colombia, Honduras, Ecuador and Guatemala.

The comments were discussed in detail and it was agreed that no modifications to the proposed provisions were necessary as a consequence of these comments. A reply will be made to the competent authorities of these countries.

Comments were made regarding the provisions foreseen for dried vine fruits. In addition, some minor, mainly linguistic, amendments were proposed and accepted.

The vote took place and a favourable opinion was expressed.

1. b) Opinion on a draft Commission Directive laying down the sampling methods and the methods of analysis for the official control of the levels of Ochratoxin A in foodstuffs (Ochratoxin A in foodstuffs)

The draft Commission Directive lays down the sampling method and the method of analysis for the official control of the levels of Ochratoxin A in cereals and dried vine fruit. The sampling regime is based on what is foreseen for the control of aflatoxin, but lower sample weights are required (10 kg samples instead of 30 kg). Concerning the methods of analysis, following a criteria-based approach, a set of performance characteristics are proposed.

The measures have been notified to the WTO for comments (G/SPS/EEC/105). No particular comments on the proposed sampling plan have been received.

Comments were made in particular with regard to the differences between the proposed sampling plan for Ochratoxin A and the sampling plan for aflatoxins as laid down in Commission Directive 98/53 of 16 July 1998. Some of the comments were accepted.

The vote took place and a favourable opinion was expressed.

2. Opinion on a draft Commission Regulation amending Commission Regulation (EC) N 194/97 of 31 January 1997 setting maximum limits for certain contaminants - Aflatoxins in spices

The draft Commission Regulation proposes to establish a maximum limit of 5 g/kg for aflatoxin B1 and of 10 g/kg for total aflatoxin for some species of spices i.e. Capsicum spp. (dried fruit thereof, whole or ground, including chillies, chilli powder, cayenne and paprika), Piper spp. (fruits thereof, including white and black pepper), Myristica fragans (nutmeg), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Curcuma longa (turmeric).

The draft was already submitted to the Committee for a vote at a previous meeting, but it was necessary to amend the previous text by adding a provision in order to ensure that spices used as ingredients in foodstuffs were also covered by the legislation.

Some Member States were of the opinion that the proposed levels were too high.

The vote took place and a favourable opinion was expressed.


To go to main Food Law Index page,
click here.