Food Law News - EU - 2001


Standing Committee on Foodstuffs, 19 - 20 July 2001

CONTAMINANTS - Discussions at the Standing Committee on Foodstuffs on Various Issues

(a) Discussion and possible intention of vote of the Member States on a draft Commission Regulation amending Commission regulation (EC) N 4666/2001 of 8 March 2001 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs in view of the notification of these drafts to the World Trade Organisation and their transmission to the European Parliament for information.

The Commission representative informed the Committee that legal revisers have revised the draft Commission Regulation. This review resulted in several editorial changes but no changes in substance have been included. Remarks were made by delegations on the proposal itself with regard to the relation between the levels for food and feedingstuffs, in particular for milk, to differentiate more the currently proposed single limit for the whole group of fish and fishery products in function of the different categories of fish and fish products, the reporting of the results, inclusion of dioxin-like PCBs in the maximum level proposed for fish and fishery products.

The Commission representative confirmed that the Commission is of the opinion that the maximum levels proposed for feedingstuffs and foodstuffs are coherent. It was also indicated that data are currently lacking to propose different levels for different categories of fish and fishery products. Furthermore data are not sufficiently available to set for the time being maximum levels including dioxinlike PCBs for all foodstuffs under consideration. The reporting of the results will be addressed in the draft Commission Directive establishing requirement for the methods of analysis.

Besides these specific comments and some linguistic remarks, comments regarding source directed measures, enforcement, monitoring, cost-benefit analysis, development of methods of analysis have been made.

The Commission confirmed its intention to address these issues in a next meeting of the Expert Committee early autumn. The intention of vote has been taken. No qualified majority was obtained. The chairman announced the organisation of an extra-ordinary meeting of the Standing Committee in order to submit the draft Commission Regulation for formal vote.

(b) Discussion on a draft Commission Recommendation on the reduction of the presence of dioxins in foodstuffs in view of the notification of these drafts to the World Trade Organisation and their transmission to the European Parliament for information.

The Commission representative informed the Committee that legal revisers have revised the draft Commission Recommendation. This review resulted in several editorial changes but no changes in substance have been included. The draft Commission Recommendation was generally welcomed and no specific comments were made on the provisions of the draft Commission Recommendation.

(c) Discussion on a working document for a draft Commission Directive establishing laying down the sampling methods and the methods of analysis for the official control of the levels of dioxins in foodstuffs.

As the planned expert meeting at Wageningen on 2-3 July, at which the requirements for the method of analysis would be discussed in detail, has been postponed, the point has not been treated. It was announced that the expert meeting would now be held on 27-28 of August 2001.

(d). Discussion and possible 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 raw cereals)

As the document was not available for discussion, the point has not been treated and will be on the agenda of the next meeting of the Committee.

(e) Presentation of the findings of a FVO mission to China from 8 to 21 May 2001 in order to assess the control systems in place to prevent aflatoxin contamination in peanuts and 3-MCPD contamination in soy sauce and to assess the facilities and measures in place for the determination of aflatoxin levels in peanuts and 3-MCPD in soy sauce intended for export to the European Union. Discussion on the findings and possible follow-up.

An official from the Food and Veterinary Office orally presented the findings and conclusions of the mission.

The possible follow-up of this mission was discussed.

In response to the findings of the mission to China and in response to Rapid Alert notifications on high levels of 3-MCPD in soy sauces from other third countries, the Member States had no objection to the Commission writing to China and the other third countries requesting guarantees, in particular certification for all soy sauce products.

With regard to aflatoxins in peanuts, no objections were noted to the introduction of tan obligatory certification for peanuts intended for export to the EU certifying that the concerned consignment does comply with the EU legislation. Competent authorities of the importing Member States should control each consignment on the aflatoxin content before release on the market. Measures will be reconsidered within a short period of time in order to verify if the measures provide a sufficient level of protection to public health within the Community and to assess whether there is a continuing need for the sampling and analysis of each consignment by the competent authority of the importing Member State.

(f) 3.bis Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

The actions of Member States on Spanish olive-residue oil products, such as withdrawal from the market, were discussed. Spain offered to receive back the exported products. Spain presented information pinpointing how the contamination arose in the heating and solvent extraction process used for production. It was clear that the process does not apply to olive oil or virgin olive oil. The Commission asked all Member States to provide written reports on national investigations on this issue in advance of the next Standing Committee meeting. No MS were against Spain setting national levels for PAHs in oliveresidue oil as a crisis management measure. The Commission advised that the planned risk assessment by the Scientific Commmittee on Food was essential before possible EU maximum levels could be determined.

(g) AOB

An update from the meeting of the Expert Committee on Contaminants in Food was presented. Suggested changes to the provisions in the Annex of Commission Regulation 466/2001/EC for heavy metals in certain fishery products were discussed in view of the future draft document from the Commission. The review of the maximum levels for 3-MCPD will continue at the next meeting of the experts. The Scientific Committee on Food will be asked to perform a risk assessment on acute effects of tin in canned foods.


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