Food Law News - EU - 2003

FSA Letter, 16 May 2003

MYCOTOXINS - EC Permitted Levels

The letter provides an update on recent work on the progress with EC discussions on harmonised controls for mycotoxins. These discussions were continued at a meeting of the Working Group on Agricultural Contaminants on 8 May.

Pistachios from Iran, peanuts from China and Egypt and dried figs, hazelnuts and pistachios from Turkey

The Commission Decisions imposing special conditions on the import of the above products into the EU are to be amended to allow those consignments which are to be tested to be detained for a maximum of 15 working days and also to require Member States to submit completed spreadsheets providing data on all consignments, including those which are tested for aflatoxins and the results of such testing. There was some discussion on the issue of traceability beyond the initial point of entry and the Commission agreed to consider how far traceability requirements could be included in the Decisions. The Commission expressed its intention to produce an explanatory document with these Decisions to clarify the certification requirements and other details.

Aflatoxins in maize/Fusarium toxins in cereals

It has become clear in discussions on these issues that, before setting specific levels, the question of what constitutes a raw cereal and where in the production/processing chain the levels should apply should be addressed. The FSA are seeking comments on:
(a) what is the definition of a raw cereal?
(b) what is the definition of a 'cleaned' cereal?
(c) what are the cleaning processes involved and at what stage production/processing chain is cleaning carried out?
(d) should maximum limits be set for 'raw' cereals or 'cleaned cereals or only products at the retail stage?
(e) should maximum limits be set for both the 'raw' product and products for direct human consumption?
Any comments should be sent by 22 May before the next Working Group meeting on 26-27 May.

Ochratoxin A

There was a limited discussion on the appropriate measures to limit the presence of ochratoxin A in coffee, beer, wine, grape juice, cocoa and cocoa products and spices and on the maximum level for ochratoxin A in dried vine fruit, within the framework of the review foreseen in Commission Regulation (EC) 472/2002.

The Commission had studied the report from the SCOOP task and the data presented by industry at the ochratoxin A forum January 2003 and proposed, as an initial basis for discussion, limits of 3-4 µg/kg for roasted coffee, 6-10 µg/kg for instant coffee and 2 µg/kg for wine and grape juice. These were the first priority category of foodstuffs. Possible limits for green coffee, spices, cocoa, beer and a revision of the dried vine fruit limit would be considered subsequently. The possibility of adding other dried fruit and liquorice to this list was discussed.


Reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) - Cross compliance

In January 2003 DEFRA issued a public consultation 'CAP reform: consultation on mid-term review of agenda 2000'. One of the horizontal measures in draft EC Council Regulations issued on 22 January (available via the Commission's website at relates to cross compliance, which links CAP payments to compliance with 38 EC Regulations and Directives acts applying directly at farm level. The Agency has recently been supplied by DEFRA with a list of these 38 Regulations and Directives. One of the Regulations is Council Regulation (EEC) No. 315/93 of 8 February 1993 laying down Community procedures for contaminants in food. This means that compliance will also be required with Regulations made under Article 8 of Regulation No. 315/93 i.e. Regulation 466/2001, as amended, which sets maximum limits for aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, nitrate, heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury), 3-MCPD and dioxins in various foodstuffs.

The FSA have been informed that whilst Member States support the Commission's proposals for cross compliance in principle, there is no support for the introduction of its highly complex farm inspection approach. Possible alternative simplified approaches for the farm inspection procedures to verify compliance with the Regulations, including regulations on contaminants, and Directives are currently under discussion.

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