Food Law News - EU - 1999

13 January 1999: OFFICIAL CONTROL - Coordinated Programme for the Official Control of Foodstuffs for 1999

OJ L7, 13 January 1999

Coordinated Programme for the Official Control of Foodstuffs for 1999

As provided for in Directive 89/397/EEC on the official control of foodstuffs, the Commission requests Member States to undertake sampling of particular items of food each year. The requirements for 1999 have been published in a Recommendation in the Official Journal. The following is extracted from the Recommendation.

During 1999 Member States should take samples and/or carry out inspections, undertaking laboratory analyses where indicated, for:

Although sampling rates have not been set, Member States should ensure that the number of samples taken is sufficient to provide an overview of the subject under consideration in each Member State. Suggestions will be made for the methods of analysis. Member States should provide information as requested following the format of the record sheets provided in the Annex to help enhance the comparability of results.

Ochratoxin A in coffee

The aim of this element of the programme is to survey the enforcement actions taken by Member States when unacceptable amounts of a toxic substance are found for which no specific maximum limit exists. However according to Community and national food legislation, food intended for human consumption must be safe and, notably, Article 2 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 315/93 ( 2 ), prohibits the selling of foodstuffs with excessive amounts of contaminants from the public health viewpoint and in particular at a toxicological level.

Ochratoxin A is considered to be a potent nephrotoxic agent, a carcinogen and having genotoxic properties. No specific maximum limit for ochratoxin A in coffee has been fixed in the European Community at Community level nor, for most of the Member States, at national level. Available scientific data do not clearly indicate the effects of different processes like roasting on the reduction of the ochratoxin contents. Furthermore raw coffee is sold to a limited extent directly to the consumer. Therefore all types of coffee (raw; roasted; ground; instant; etc.) should be controlled for ochratoxin A contamination.

Sampling should be executed following the provisions laid down for the official control of aflatoxins in groundnuts and derived products by Commission Directive 98/53/EC

Additives in foodstuffs

Several Directives regulate the use of additives in foodstuffs (Directive 94/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council amended by Directive 96/83/EC, dealing with the use of sweeteners; Directive 94/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, dealing with the use of colours; Directive 95/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, as last amended by Directive 96/85/EC, dealing with the use of additives other than colours and sweeteners).

The aim of this element of the programme is to measure the degree of compliance with the afore- mentioned Directives in Member States following the recent harmonisation of usage conditions of these substances; furthermore to survey the enforcement actions taken by Member States in case of non-compliance with legislation.

The control should include inspections in food processing establishments (checking the recipes) and analyses of samples taken from the market or in food processing establishments. The results of the inspections and of the analyses should be recorded accordingly in the sheets provided in the Annex to the Recommendation. These record sheets follow the format of the statistical return forms for the annual inspection programmes of the Member States.

The inquiry should focus on a limited number of additives because of practical reasons. As the selection criterion, Member States should select additives for which exposure assessments, undertaken in the Member States as part of the scientific cooperation, underscore that there are risks of the acceptable daily intake being exceeded.

The presented list (as given in the Annex) should be used as a guideline to select the priority for the present study. Nevertheless other additives may be of particular relevance for specific Member States and could be added to the report.

As the selection criterion for the categories of products within which these additives are to be sought, the categories presented in the Annex should be selected as they are the main contributors for the intake of the additives under consideration. However other products are not excluded.

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