There is concern about the long-term health effects from inorganic and organic chemicals in food and it is essential, in the interests of public health protection, to keep contaminants in food at levels that are toxicologically acceptable.
Commission measures have been introduced under Council Regulation (EEC) 315/93 to set limits for contaminants in food not covered by other specific Community legislation.
Commission Regulation 466/2001 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs and the allied EC Directive 2001/22/EC laying down the sampling methods and methods of analysis for the official control of the levels of lead, cadmium, mercury and 3-MCPD in foodstuffs, will apply from 5 April 2002.
The limits for lead, cadmium and mercury in fish and shellfish and the lists of species covered in the Regulation were recently revised. The resultant Commission Regulation (EC) 221/2002, amending Regulation 466/2001, will apply from 5 April 2002.
Existing limits for nitrate have been recently revised. An agreed but yet unpublished Commission Regulation, amending Regulation 466/2001 is due to apply from 5 April 2002 also.
Council Regulation (EC) 2375/2001 setting maximum permitted levels for dioxins in foodstuffs, will apply from 1 July 2002. The Regulation amends Commission Regulation 466/2001.
The next steps
A Statutory Instrument is required to make provision for the enforcement of these measures. The Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2002 are being introduced to meet this requirement in England; corresponding Regulations are being introduced separately in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Copies of the Regulations and Directive are available on the Commission Website http://europa.eu.int/index_en.htm
The Regulation amending nitrate limits will be published in the near future.