Food Law News - UK - 2005

FSA Press Release (2005/0587), 1 July 2005

CONTACT MATERIALS - FSA welcomes EFSA opinion on semicarbazide

The Food Standards Agency has today welcomed a new opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on semicarbazide in food. EFSA has concluded that new information about semicarbazide shows that it is not a concern for human health at levels found in food.

Nick Tomlinson, Head of Chemical Safety at the Food Standards Agency said: 'This is good news. EFSA looked further at the evidence about semicarbazide and found that it is not a threat to public health. This means that parents can be reassured about the issue of semicarbazide in baby food jars.'

The presence of semicarbazide in jars of food, including baby food, was first reported in July 2003. The main source was a chemical by-product of plastic seals used on the inside of metal twist-on-twist-off lids of glass jars that contain food.

In October 2003, EFSA had advised that the risk, if any, to consumers was likely to be very small. This advice was based on findings that semicarbazide is a weak carcinogen in mice and may have the potential to damage genetic material. EFSA also recommended that the food industry should find alternative methods for sealing jars of food as a precautionary measure.

EFSA has updated its initial advice having carried out a further review of the presence of semicarbazide in food and considered new toxicological studies. EFSA has concluded that it does not consider semicarbazide to be a genotoxic carcinogen, and that the issue of carcinogenicity is not of concern for human health at the levels found in food.

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