Food Law News - EU - 1999

29 April 1999: MYCOTOXINS - EC Permitted Levels

JFSSG Letter, 29 April 1999

Mycotoxins - EC Permitted Levels

Previous letters have indicated progress with EC discussions on harmonised ochratoxin A (OA) controls and aflatoxins in spices. These discussions were continued at a recent meeting of the Commission Working Group on Agricultural Contaminants.

Ochratoxin A (OA)

Initial discussions on possible regulatory measures to control OA contamination in certain foodstuffs continued and the Commission have summarised these discussions in the a position paper. There was general agreement to statutory limits for cereals although there is, as yet, no consensus as to what these limits should be. For other commodities some possible limits have been suggested although no firm decision has yet been taken as to whether it is appropriate to set limits for commodities other than cereals at this time.

The Commission has asked for comments on this document by 1 June 1999.


Commission Regulation (EC) No.1525/98 setting limits for aflatoxins in certain foodstuffs contained a proviso that higher limits may be considered for cereals, nuts and dried fruit if sufficient evidence were made available as to the effectiveness of processing in reducing aflatoxin contamination in these products. The deadline for the receipt of such evidence has been extended from 1 July 1999 to 1 July 2001.

In response to a number of queries on Directive 98/53/EC laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for aflatoxins, the Commission suggested that the scope of this Directive be clarified by stating that, for purposes other than official control, it may be appropriate to use other sampling methods and procedures. It was agreed that this could best be achieved via a guidance letter from the Working Group on Agricultural Contaminants. A draft will be prepared by the Commission for further consideration.

Little progress was made on the question of possible limits for aflatoxins in spices as the Commission has not yet received any data on the effects of processing on reducing contamination in these products. A definition of the term "spices" has yet to be agreed.

The next meeting to discuss mycotoxins is planned for 8 June.

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