Food Law News - EU - 1998

21 October 1998: CONTAMINANTS - Mycotoxins - EC Permitted Levels

JFSSG Letter, 21 October 1998

Mycotoxins - EC Permitted Levels

The Commission Working Group on Agricultural Contaminants discussed the SCF opinion on Ochratoxin A (OA) at its meeting on 19 October.

There was a general consensus in favour of appropriate regulation to help keep consumer exposure within acceptable bounds loosely defined by the SCF. Concern was also expressed about particular at-risk groups such as young children. A number of Member States also commented on the importance of measures which could be taken to limit the formation of OA by promoting good agricultural and storage practices.

Most Member States appeared to accept the principle that regulatory limits should only be set for those commodities which contribute significantly to total OA exposure. Future debate will undoubtedly focus on the definition of what is a significant contribution, against the background of the wide variety of diets within the EC. The Commission will now produce a working document which will contain proposals for those foods and products considered to provide a significant contribution to total OA intake. The following categories will be considered, but not necessarily proposed for regulation. Apart for the first category, they are not presented in any priority order:

Pulses may also be considered but were considered by the Commission to be a low priority.

The second agenda item concerned the aflatoxin in spices results for the EC coordinated control programme. A decision was deferred from last year pending these results. The available results for nutmeg, chilli powder, pepper and paprika powder indicate that significant proportions are contaminated in excess of 10ppb. Since spices are consumed in such small quantities compared to other foods, the issue remains of whether this is significant in terms of their contribution to total aflatoxins intake. Nonetheless, the Commission now feels that it is likely to have a majority in favour of a regulatory limit and will make a formal proposal.

The next meeting is planned for 14 December.

For previous item, see 6 October 1998.

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