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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Contaminants in food: minimising negative impacts

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Contaminants in food: minimising negative impacts

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EEC) No 315/93 — EU procedures for contaminants in food

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THIS REGULATION DO?

It seeks to protect public health by prohibiting the marketing of foods containing an unacceptable amount of residual substances known as ‘contaminants’.

KEY POINTS

  • Contaminants are present in food as a result of treatment after production or through environmental contamination.
  • The EU regulates the toxicologically acceptable levels of contaminants and keeps them at the lowest possible levels.
  • Contaminants which are the subject of more specific rules, or to extraneous matter, such as insect fragments, animal hair, etc. are not covered by this regulation.
  • An EU country may take restrictive measures by reference to this regulation if it suspects that the presence of a contaminant poses a hazard to public health. If so, it must immediately inform the other EU countries and the European Commission and give reasons for its decision. The Commission must examine the reasons given by the EU country as soon as possible and take appropriate measures after having consulted the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (now the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed). This Committee assists the Commission on all matters which concern contaminants, including the establishment of authorised maximum tolerances.
  • The regulation requires maximum levels to be set for certain contaminants in order to protect public health.
  • EU countries must not prohibit trade in foods that comply with this regulation.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 sets maximum levels for certain contaminants in food including nitrate, lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, melamine, etc.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It applies since 1 March 1993.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see also ‘Contaminants’ on the European Commission's website

ACT

Council Regulation (EEC) No 315/93 of 8 February 1993 laying down Community procedures for contaminants in food (OJ L 37, 13.2.1993, pp. 1-3)

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EEC) No 315/93 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs (OJ L 364, 20.12.2006, pp. 5-24). See consolidated version.

last update 18.04.2016

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