Food Law News - EU - 2002

FSA Letter, 5 August 2002

CONTAMINANTS - Dioxins and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Foodstuffs

An update on a range of issues discussed at a recent Commission Working Group meeting held in Brussels.

New legislation:

Development of provisional statutory limits for non dioxin-like PCBs.

The Commission has sought Member States' views on whether work to set provisional statutory limits for non dioxin-like PCBs in foodstuffs should commence now. The implication of this is that limits could only be set taking into account the known levels of these chemicals in foods, and the lowest levels which can reasonably achieved. An alternative approach would be for the Commission to wait until the findings of a risk assessment, that is being carried out jointly by the WHO, US Environmental Protection Agency and the Commission's independent Scientific Committee for Food, are known so that public health implications are taken into account when setting limits. It is anticipated that the risk assessment will be completed in December 2003. If the former approach is taken it may be necessary to revise the limits in the light of the results of the risk assessment.

Proposal to amend Council Regulation 2375/2001, setting maximum levels for dioxins in foodstuffs

The Commission has indicated that it intends to propose an amendment to this legislation which would state that the legislation does not apply to products lawfully placed on the market before it came into force on 1st July. This provision would parallel measures already in place for heavy metals and 3-monochloropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) in Article 7 of Commission Regulation 466/2001 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs.

Commission Recommendation 2002/201/EC

The other key issue discussed at this meeting was Commission Recommendation 2002/201/EC (4 March 2002), which proposes national monitoring programmes for Member States for dioxins and dioxin like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The aim of the programme is to generate data, which will be used in a review of statutory limits for dioxins in foodstuffs, and to provide information on levels of PCBs to inform discussions about the development of statutory limits for these chemicals.

The Commission intends to develop a revised draft Recommendation that will be circulated to Member States for consideration. The text will:

Subject to broad agreement by Member States, the Commission intends that the draft proposal will be voted on at the September meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. The draft Recommendation will be circulated for information when it becomes available.

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