Food Law News - EU - 1999

21 September 1999: CONTAMINANTS - Mycotoxins - EC Permitted Levels

JFSSG Letter, 21 September 1999

Mycotoxins - EC Permitted Levels

There were further discussions at a meeting of the Commission Working Group on Agricultural Contaminants on 20 September.

Ochratoxin A

Discussions on possible regulatory limits for OA in certain commodities continued. The Commission tabled a list of possible commodities and limits. The Commission wished to clarify the positions of member States before considering a draft proposal.

For cereals, several Member States were in favour of a single limit of 5 mg/kg OA for cereals and cereal products, some Member States favoured a single lower limit of 3 ug/kg, whereas other Member States supported the dual limit of 5 mg/kg for cereals (including buckwheat), bran and wholemeal flour and 3 ug/kg for cereal products, including malt. The Commission favoured the dual limit, although it loosely suggested a possible alternative single limit of 4 mg/kg.

For other commodities, several Member States were in favour of limits although others remained uncertain whether regulatory limits were necessary, in particular for beer and green coffee. The Commission listed the following limits, which would be open to further discussion when the proposal is drafted:

In addition, the Commission suggested possible limits of 2 mg/kg for cocoa and cocoa powder and 1 mg/kg for cocoa products (chocolate), although it appeared that several Member States needed time to consider these additions.


Aflatoxin in spices was discussed and Member States confirmed their general agreement on separate limits of 5 mg/kg for aflatoxin B! and 10 mg/kg total aflatoxins. This would apply to certain spices where contamination was considered to be highest, these being: whole or dried fruits of the Capsicum family i.e. chillies, chilli powder, cayenne and paprika; pepper (black and white); nutmeg; ginger; turmeric,

The proposed limits would be included in a future Commission proposal. In response to concerns from some Member States, the proposal would include a footnote to the effect that these limits should be reconsidered before January 2002 and, if necessary, reduced according to scientific and technological developments.

Deoxynivalenol (DON)

The Netherlands explained that it had recently identified high levels of DON in cereal products eaten by children and it wished to introduce a national limit of 1 mg/kg. The Commission agreed to consider the details and indicated that the Scientific Committee on Food was evaluating information on this and other Fuasarium toxins and would report when their assessments were completed.

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