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Maximum levels for certain contaminants in food

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Maximum levels for certain contaminants in food

To ensure high levels of public health, in this law, the European Union sets maximum levels for certain contaminants in food. Contaminants are substances that have not been intentionally added to food but have arrived in it in the course of its production, packaging, transport, etc.

ACT

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs.

SUMMARY

To ensure high levels of public health, in this law, the European Union sets maximum levels for certain contaminants in food. Contaminants are substances that have not been intentionally added to food but have arrived in it in the course of its production, packaging, transport, etc.

WHAT DOES THIS REGULATION DO?

It lays down the maximum limits for certain contaminants in food in particular to protect the health of the most sensitive population groups, i.e. children, the elderly and pregnant women.

KEY POINTS

Scope

The following contaminants are covered:

mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, fusarium toxins, patulin and citrinin),

metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, inorganic tin),

3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD),

dioxins and dioxin-type polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),

polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),

melamine,

erucic acid,

nitrates.

Limits

Food with levels of contaminants higher than those specified in the annex to the law may not be sold. These limits cover the edible part of food and also apply to compound or processed, dried or diluted foods.

The regulation also lays down the lowest maximum levels for contaminants reasonably achievable with good manufacturing practices or good agricultural practices (ALARA, ‘as low as reasonably achievable’).

Ban on mixing

Foods complying with the maximum limits may not be mixed with other foods which exceed these limits.

Foods which must be sorted or subjected to other physical treatments to reduce the level of contamination may not be mixed with foods complying with the maximum limits.

Labelling

Labelling on groundnuts, other oilseeds, nuts, dried fruit, rice and maize sold as foods which have to be subjected to sorting or other physical treatment before human consumption must include the wording ‘Product shall be subjected to sorting or other physical treatment to reduce aflatoxin contamination before human consumption or use as an ingredient in foodstuffs’.

Labelling on groundnuts, other oilseeds, products derived from oilseeds and cereals must indicate the use and lot identification code.

Exceptions

Certain EU countries may exceed the levels of dioxins and PCBs for certain fish and fish products originating from the Baltic and intended for consumption in their territory. Their labelling must warn of the potential risks to consumer health.

Testing

EU countries must test the levels of nitrates in vegetables likely to contain significant levels (particularly those with green leaves). Their results must be sent to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

WHEN DOES THIS REGULATION APPLY?

From 9 January 2007.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see the European Commission’s ‘Food Contaminants’website.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006

9.1.2007

Applicable as of 1.3.2007

OJ L 364, 20.12. 2006, pp. 5-24

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1126/2007

30.9.2007

-

OJ L 255, 29.9.2007, pp. 14-17

Regulation (EC) No 629/2008

23.7.2008

-

OJ L 173, 3.7.2008, pp.6-9

Regulation (EC) No 165/2010

9.3.2010

-

OJ L 50, 27.2.2010, pp. 8-12

Regulation (EU) No 420/2011

20.5.2011

-

OJ L 111, 30.4.2011, pp. 3-6

Regulation (EU) No 1258/2011

23.12.2011

-

OJ L 320, 3.12.2011, pp. 15-17

Regulation (EU) No 1259/2011

23.12.2011

-

OJ L 320, 3.12.2011, pp. 18-23

Regulation (EU) No 594/2012

26.7.2012

-

OJ L 176, 6.7.2012, pp. 43-45

Regulation (EU) No 1058/2012

03.12.2012

-

OJ L 313, 13.11.2012, pp. 14-15

Regulation (EU) No 1067/2013

20.11.2013

-

OJ L 289, 31.10.2013, pp. 56-57

Regulation (EU) No 212/2014

27.3.2014

-

OJ L 67, 7.3.2014, pp. 3-4

Regulation (EU) No 362/2014

30.4.2014

-

OJ L 107, 10.4.2014, pp. 56-56

Regulation (EU) No 488/2014

2.6.2014

-

OJ L 138, 13.5.2014, pp. 75-79

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

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).

Last updated: 20.04.2015

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