Food Law News - EU - 2004

FSA Scotland Letter, 28 October 2004

CONTAMINANTS - EC Standing Committee Meeting 12 October 2004 and Commission Working Group Meeting of 1 October 2004

The letter provides information about some of the key issues which were discussed at the Working Group meeting prior to votes being taken at the Standing Committee on 13 October.

[See also related EU News item: 13 October 2004]

1. CODEX proposals for cadmium in rice and molluscs

The Commission has prepared its comments on the CODEX proposals for maximum levels for cadmium in foodstuffs. All of the proposed levels are in line with current EC limits with the exception of rice and molluscs. The Commission proposes that there should be no change to the current limit of 0.2 ppm for rice and a limit of 1 ppm for the edible portions of molluscs is supported. The UK agrees with the Commission paper.

2. Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs

The majority of Member States including the UK supported proposals for a maximum limit based on the total TEQ of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs. Further discussion on this and the numerical value of the limits will follow. The Commission has confirmed its view that the derogation for free range eggs from the current Regulation should not be extended past 1 January 2005.

3. Standing Committee Meeting

The following Commission proposals have been agreed:-

i) SANCO/70/2003 rev 7 (draft Regulation): proposals for maximum levels for PAHs: Unsmoked bivalve molluscs are now included as a separate category - paragraph 7.1.7 to Section 7, Annex I - with a maximum limit for benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) raised from 5 mg/kg to 10 mg/kg. This limit will be reviewed when further data becomes available, however the proposed limit for other unsmoked fish will remain at 5 mg/kg. The UK is proposing to support this change.

ii) SANCO/14/2004 rev 4a (draft Directive): proposals for the methods for sampling and analysis for PAHs for enforcement purposes: The Directive does not refer to a preferred method, but makes provision for laboratories to select any validated method provided the selected method meets the performance criteria indicated in Table 2, Annex II to the Directive.

iii) SANCO/15/2004 rev 4: Review of Commission Regulation 466/2001 (cadmium): Following concerns that swordfish, in particular the larger fish, exceeded the current general maximum limit for cadmium in fish of 0.05 mg/kg, a separate category for swordfish has been agreed, with a maximum limit of 0.3 mg/kg. Although there was some discussion about this revised limit, Member States have agreed that consumer protection would still be maintained at this level and the proposal was adopted.

iv) SANCO/38/2004: Amendments to Commission Directive 2001/22/EC: The text to the draft Directive in respect to 'correction for recovery' has been amended.

Next Steps

The agreed measures will now be formalised by the Commission and will be published in the Official Journal in due course. However, it should be noted that there is currently a delay with the publication of adopted measures and the implementation dates of the Directives have been adjusted to take account of the delays. The Commission has agreed, following a proposal from some Member States including the UK, that the implementation period for the Directive for PAHs will be 12 months. We will notify stakeholders of the publication of the measures via an Interested Parties letter.

4. Commission Working Group meeting

Arsenic in Seaweed

Following the results from recent UK and earlier Canadian work on inorganic arsenic in seaweed the Commission asked Member States whether any action should be taken at EU level. During the discussions, the UK reminded the Group that inorganic arsenic is a known genotoxic carcinogen (i.e. it interacts directly with the genetic material in the cell) and that it would therefore not be possible to set a safety threshold. Member States have been asked to consider this issue prior to further discussion at Standing Committee, bearing in mind that setting a maximum residue limit for inorganic arsenic was not practicable in the absence of a suitable test method. It was agreed that consumer advice may be the best option and that a targeted question could also be put to EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs)

Member States submitted data sets for discussion. From the data submitted it appears that BDE47 and BDE99 were the main contributors to the contamination of the food chain, with BDE47 found in most fish and BDE47/99 found in grazing animals (cows and sheep) and at lower levels in fed animals (pigs and poultry). Data for Baltic fish showed that salmon contained higher BFR levels than herring. The UK has submitted data for trout and eels (FSIS No 52/04: BFRs in Trout and Eels from the Skerne - Tees River System and Total Diet Study Samples refers). The Agency is about to commence a further total diet study followed by a major fish survey which will include analysis for BFRs.

5. Request for Data

The Commission has made requests for data for the following food categories to inform the reviews of the regulations .


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