Food Law News - EU - 2005

FSA Letter, 3 March 2005

CONTAMINANTS – Mycotoxins: EC Permitted Levels

The last letter on this topic was on 10 December 2004 regarding the progress with EC discussions on harmonised controls for mycotoxins [See EU News Item: 10 December 2004]. These discussions were continued at a meeting of the Working Group on Agricultural Contaminants on 24/25 February 2005.


Guidance document for competent authorities for the control of compliance with EU legislation on aflatoxins

This document was discussed at length and the Commission indicated that it would update the draft document to take into account comments made by industry and those made during the discussions and circulate it to Member States for comment. If this document is accepted then it will go to the next Standing Committee for formal endorsement. The Commission reiterated that this document would be published on the website in all languages and be regularly updated.

Iranian pistachios

The Commission Decision on Iranian pistachios has been published in the Official Journal [Official Journal of the European Union L30, 3.2.2005, p. 12-18]. The Decision has been enacted into English law by The Food (Pistachios from Iran ) (Emergency Control) ( England ) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 [Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 208], which came into force on 7 February.

Ochratoxin A

The Commission informed the group that the report of the ochratoxin A toxicological project has been finalised and will be submitted to EFSA for an opinion shortly. CODEX will be informed and the report will be available for evaluation at the next JECFA meeting.

Commission Regulation [EC No. 123/2005] setting maximum limits for ochratoxin A in coffee products, wine and grape juice, which comes into force on 1 April 2005, has been published in the Official Journal [Official Journal of the European Union L25, 28.1.2005, p. 3-5]. The related Commission Directive [2005/5/EC], amending Directive 2002/26/EC laying down the methods for sampling and analysis for ochratoxin A in certain foodstuffs has also been published [Official Journal of the European Union L27, 29.1.2005, p. 38-40].

Fusarium toxins

The comments received from two WTO member countries on the draft Commission Regulation setting maximum limits for Fusarium toxins were briefly discussed. The Commission will respond to these comments and Member States will receive a copy of these responses. The Commission's Interservice consultation raised the issue of cereals that go into intervention stores. DG Agriculture highlighted that all cereals in intervention stores would have to comply with any legislation that comes into force. This would be an issue for the cereals that went into store prior to the 2005-2006 harvest as they would not have been tested for these toxins beforehand and that the Commission has already guaranteed prices for these cereal stocks. Therefore, after internal discussion, the Commission proposed that the maximum levels for unprocessed cereals in intervention would only be applicable for those harvested 2005-2006 onwards. A footnote to this effect will be added to the tables in Annex 1 of the Regulation.

The UK commented that a CEN standard for sampling of cereals was being discussed and that it seemed to be based on a practical sampling plan for industry and not necessarily taking into account the EU sampling plan. The Commission has been invited to a CEN cereals committee meeting in March to discuss sampling and would inform all Member States of the outcome of this meeting. The Commission also stated that community rules would apply first and foremost; and only in the absence of community sampling plans would the CEN standard apply.

Code of practice for the reduction and prevention of fumonisins in maize and maize products.

Following a brief discussion the Commission agreed to distribute a revised version of the document to allow for further internal consultation and discussion at the next meeting. This document is attached and we would urgently seek the views of those involved in this area, especially in terms of practicality and impact.

Official Food and Feed Control (OFFC) Regulations

Application of Article 15(5)

Article 15(5) states that a list shall be drawn up of foods and feed of non-animal origin that are, on the basis of known or emerging risk, to be subject to an increased level of official controls at the point of entry into the EU. The frequency and nature of these controls shall be laid down and fees related to such controls may be established.

The discussion focussed on the definition of ‘points of entry'. The Commission is of the opinion that the point of entry as defined in Commission Decisions is the point at which a product enters the EU and is released for free circulation. However, in Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 there is a differentiation in point of entry and point of free circulation. It was agreed that this difference needs to be clarified by the Commission.

There was some discussion on the basis upon which the list of high-risk products would be defined. Further discussion will take place before any decisions are made.

Draft Commission Directive merging the provisions provided for in Commission Directives 98/53/EC, 2002/26/EC, 2003/78/EC and SANCO/0023/2004 into one Commission Directive

The Commission indicated that consolidation was the main purpose of this exercise, however, some changes to update current legislation could be incorporated into the consolidated Directive. The Commission asked for suggestions from Member States for topics that should be considered. Some Member States stated that they would prefer the legislation to be issued as a Regulation as opposed to a Directive as this would leave no room for national interpretation and add transparency to the provisions.

Discussion on papers for Codex meeting

The following papers were discussed and the Commission will draw up an EU position for further discussion:

The above papers can be found on the internet at:

The FSA would be grateful to receive any comments you may have on these documents and any available information on mycotoxin contamination in sorghum by 31 March 2005 .

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