Commission Memo (MEMO/05/154), 11 May 2005
The Standing Committee met on 10 May 2005 to assess the situation with respect to the adulteration of spices and other foods with industrial dyes, in particular the recent findings of para Red.
EFSA will carry out a review of toxicological data available on p-Red and other similar dyes; tentative timescale: 2 months.
Analytical methods: UK , NL, FR and ES agreed that their laboratory would work in a network in order to further develop analytical methods for p-Red, to extend the method to other similar dyes in food and to improve consistency of results. DE will explore the possibility of participating in the network (feedback by 12 May). Tentative timescale: 2 weeks.
Thereafter, interlaboratory testing of the same samples will be carried out. The test material will be made available to all Member States. Tentative timescale for completion: another 2 weeks.
UK will coordinate these activities. UK called for suggestions by 12 May on other dyes to be covered by this exercise as well as adulterated samples to serve as quality control material.
All information between the network, including also conclusions on protocols, validation results, availability of quality control material, etc. will be copied to the Commission. All the conclusions of the network will be circulated by the Commission through the RASFF and separately to the members of the Standing Committee.
Pending the availability of harmonised methodology resulting from the actions described under point 2 Member States shall continue to carry out controls. In case of analytical problems, Member States should contact the coordinator of the network. Unfavourable control results will be reported through the RASFF. Favourable results should be transmitted to the Commission in a tabular form on a monthly basis, starting on 1 July 2005 .
This testing will also allow to obtain a global overview of the extent of the adulteration and exposure of consumers.
In order to stop the use of illegal colours in food, the Commission will continue to raise the awareness of the food industry at EU level with respect to their responsibilities under the Food Law. Member States will do the same at national level.
Analytical methods developed as a consequence of actions under point 2 will be transmitted to third countries to allow them to tackle the problem.
Member States were reminded to transmit all relevant information through the RASFF at least at the same time as making it publicly available at national level.
The Commission stressed that the Food Law covers not only food safety, but also fraudulent practices (Article 8). In the particular case of adulteration by industrial dyes, the Commission also stressed that the food additive legislation excludes the use of colours other than those listed for specific authorised uses in Directive 94/36/EC.
Pending the results of the exercise described in paragraph 2, it should be considered that the limit of detection (LOD) for most illegal dyes similar to Sudan I in spices using HPLC is in the range of 0.5 – 1 mg/kg. For the time being, all food ingredients or foods prepared from spices containing illegal dye(s) above the relevant LOD using HPLC should be withdrawn from the market. All foods analysed and found to contain the illegal dye(s) above the relevant LOD should also be withdrawn from the market.
The conclusions of this meeting will be kept under review.