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Food contaminants (maximum levels) - EUR-Lex

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Food contaminants (maximum levels) - EUR-Lex

The European Union (EU) is setting maximum levels for certain contaminants with a view to reducing their presence in foodstuffs to the lowest levels reasonably achievable by means of good manufacturing or agricultural practices. The objective is to achieve a high level of public health protection, especially for sensitive population groups: children, pregnant women, etc.

ACT

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs [See amending act(s)].

SUMMARY

Food with levels of contaminants higher than those specified in the Annex to this Regulation may not be placed on the market (see Annex).

The maximum levels cover the edible part of food and also apply to compound or processed, dried or diluted foods, whereby a concentration or dilution factor may be applied or by taking into account the relative proportions of the ingredients in the compound product.

Contaminants

The contaminants covered by this Regulation are:

  • nitrates;
  • mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins, T-2 toxins and HT-2 toxins);
  • metals (lead, cadmium, mercury and inorganic tin);
  • monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD);
  • dioxins and PCBs;
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Ban on mixing

Foods which comply with the maximum levels of contaminants may not be mixed with other foods which exceed these limits. By the same token, foods which must be sorted or subjected to other physical treatments to reduce the level of contamination may not be mixed with foods which comply with the maximum levels for human consumption.

Specific rules on labelling

Labelling on groundnuts, other oilseeds, nuts, dried fruit, rice and maize put on the market 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'.

In addition, labelling on groundnuts, other oilseeds, products derived from oilseeds and cereals must indicate the use and lot identification code. If it is not clearly specified that they are not intended for human consumption, the maximum levels laid down by this Regulation apply.

As regards the maximum levels of nitrates in lettuce, it is maximum levels defined in the Annex for lettuce grown in open air (open-grown lettuce) that apply, with the exception of lettuce grown under cover (protected lettuce), which is labelled as such.

Derogations

This Regulation grants Finland and Sweden a derogation for exceeding the levels of dioxins and PCBs for wild salmon, herring, river lamprey, trout and char as well as for products thereof originating from the Baltic and intended for consumption in their territory. Latvia also benefits from a similar derogation for wild salmon. None of these products can be marketed in the other countries of the European Union. Their labelling must be appropriate for informing consumers on the potential risks to their health.

Monitoring

Member States are responsible for controlling the levels of nitrate in vegetables likely to contain significant levels, especially green leaf vegetables. They shall communicate their results to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Disposal of stocks

This Regulation permits the disposal of stocks for food which exceeds the maximum levels of contaminants and which was placed on the market before the date of entry into force of the respective contaminant limits.

References

Act

Entry into force - Date of expiry

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 of 20.12. 2006

Amending act(s)

Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1126/2007

30.9.2007

-

OJ L 255 of 29.9.2007

Regulation (EC) No 629/2008

23.7.2008

-

OJ L 173 of 3.7.2008

Regulation (EC) No 165/2010

9.3.2010

-

OJ L 50 of 27.2.2010

Regulation (EU) No 420/2011

20.5.2011

-

OJ L 111 of 30.4.2011

Regulation (EU) No 1258/2011

23.12.2011

-

OJ L 320 of 3.12.2011

Regulation (EU) No 1259/2011

23.12.2011

-

OJ L 320 of 3.12.2011

594/2012

26.7.2012

-

OJ L 176 of 6.7.2012

1058/2012

13.12.2012

-

OJ L 313 of 13.11.2012

1067/2013

20.11.2013

-

OJ L 289 of 31.10.2013

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

METHODS OF SAMPLING AND METHODS OF ANALYSIS

Regulation (EU) No 252/2012 laying down methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of levels of dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs in certain foodstuffs [Official Journal L 84 du 23.3.2012].

Regulation (EC) No 333/2007 laying down methods of sampling and analysis for the official controls of the levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, inorganic tin, 3-MCPD and benzo(a)pyrene in foodstuffs [Official Journal L 88 du 29.3.2007].

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2006 laying down methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of the levels of nitrates in certain foodstuffs [Official Journal L 364 of 20.12.2006].

Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of the levels of mycotoxins in food [Official Journal L 70 of 9.3.2006].

IMPORTS

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1152/2009 of 27 November 2009 imposing special conditions governing the import of certain foodstuffs from certain third countries due to contamination risk by aflatoxins and repealing Decision 2006/504/EC [Official Journal L 313 of 28.11.2009].

Last updated: 10.04.2014

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