Legislation on contaminants

Concentrations of contaminants in food are primarily regulated by setting maximum levels. At present, maximum levels have been set for, inter alia, the following compounds:

  • nitrate
  • mycotoxins (includes: aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins, citrine, ergot)
  • metals (includes: lead, cadmium, mercury, inorganic tin compounds, inorganic arsenic)
  • 3-monochloropropane diol (3-MCPD) and glycidyl fatty acid esters
  • dioxins and PCBs
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (includes: benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[a]anthracene, benzo[a]fluoranthene and chrysene)
  • melamine and its structural analogues
  • natural plant toxins (includes: erucic acid, tropane alkaloids, hydrocyanic acid)

 

The maximum levels are intended to keep consumer exposure to these compounds at a toxicologically acceptable level in order to protect public health. Occasional intakes exceeding the maximum levels do not, as a general rule, pose an immediate health risk, but the maximum levels prevent, in particular, adverse effects resulting from long-term and continuous exposure. Foods in which the concentrations of these compounds exceed maximum levels shall not be placed on the market or used as food ingredients.

Even if no legal maximum levels have yet been set for any individual contaminant, businesses have a responsibility for food safety. This means that where necessary, businesses must also take into account in their in-house control of contaminants for which no maximum levels have yet been set. In addition, it should also be noted that even though no maximum levels have currently been set for acrylamide, businesses are required to take mandatory measures to reduce acrylamide.

Legislation on contaminants in food has been compiled in full on the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry website.

 

The main regulations on contaminants in food (Note that the regulations must be taken into account with any changes):

  • Council Regulation (EEC) No 315/93 of 8 February 1993 laying down Community procedures for contaminants in food (framework regulation)
  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs
  • Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/2158 of 20 November 2017 establishing mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of the presence of acrylamide in food
  • Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on the maximum level of contaminants in food (880/2016)
  • Council Regulation (Euratom) 2016/52 of 15 January 2016 laying down maximum permitted levels of radioactive contamination of food and feed following a nuclear accident or other case of radiological emergency, and repealing Regulation (Euratom) No 3954/87 and Commission Regulations (Euratom) No 944/89 and (Euratom) No 770/90

 

Regulations on sampling and criteria for methods of analysis (Note that regulations must be taken into account with any changes):

  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 of 23 February 2006 laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of the levels of mycotoxins content in foodstuffs
  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 1882/2006 of 19 December 2006 laying down methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of the levels of nitrates in certain foodstuffs
  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 333/2007 of 28 March 2007 laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for the control of the levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, inorganic tin, 3-MCPD and benzo[a]pyrene in foodstuffs
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 2015/705 of 30 April 2015 laying down methods of sampling and performance criteria for the methods of analysis for the official control of the levels of erucic acid in foodstuffs and repealing Commission Directive 80/891/EEC
  • Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/644 of 5 April 2017 laying down the sampling methods and the methods of analysis for the control of levels of dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs in certain foodstuffs ) and repealing Regulation (EU) No 589/2014
Page last updated 6/11/2020