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Food Safety

European Union strategy on dioxins and PCBs:

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee "Community strategy on dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)".

In 2004 and 2007, a progress report has been presented on the implementation of this European union strategy on dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):


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

Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/644 of 5 April 2017 laying down methods of sampling and 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

Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU of 3 December 2013 on the reduction of the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs in feed and food as amended by Commission Recommendation 2014/663/EU of 11 September 2014

Guidelines, scientific opinions and general information:

On request of the European Commission the European Union Reference Laboratory (EU-RL) for Dioxins and PCBs in feed and food have issued on 23 July 2009 the report " Analytical capacities of National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) and Official Laboratories (OFLs) in case of dioxin incidents in the feed and food chain and conclusions for management in crisis situations ".

Guidance on sampling of whole fishes of different size and/or weight

Guidelines for the enforcement of provisions on dioxins in the event non-compliance with the maximum levels for dioxins in food.

Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) on the "Risk assessment of dioxins and Dioxin-like PCBs in Food" has been adopted on 30 May 2001.

Opinion of the SCF on the Risk Assessment of Dioxins and Dioxin-like PCBs in Food, 22 November 2000.

A Report on "Assessment of dietary intake of dioxins and related PCBs by the population of EU Member State" within the framework of Scientific Cooperation was published on 17 November 2000.

A scientific report on "Results of monitoring of dioxin levels in food and feed" was published by EFSA on 31 March 2010. . On 30 July of 2010, a scientific report “Results of monitoring of non dioxin-like PCBs in food and feed” was published. In 2012, EFSA published an update of the monitoring of the levels of dioxins and PCBs in food and feed.

Fact Sheet on dioxin in feed and food, 20 July 2001.

Information on analysis of dioxins in food and feed can be found on the website of the EU Reference laboratory for dioxins and PCBs in feed and food.

Link to the European Commission website on environment concerning Dioxins.

Recent contamination incidents related to dioxins:

  • Dioxins in guar gum from India

    The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) received on 24 July 2007 a notification from the competent authorities of Switzerland concerning a finding of a serious contamination by dioxins and pentachlorophenol in guar gum originating from India.

    The contamination levels of dioxins and pentachlorophenol (PCP) found in certain batches of guar gum are very high (about 1000 times the level of what can be considered as normal background contamination).

    In response to this finding of elevated levels of PCP and dioxins, the FVO carried out an urgent inspection visit to India from 5 to 11 October 2007. The inspection team concluded that there is to date insufficient evidence of the cause of the contamination incident, and the investigation carried out by the Indian authorities has been inadequate to provide any conclusions.

    With availability of sodium pentachlorophenolate and its use in the guar gum industry, and with a largely self regulated industry, there are inadequate controls in place to ensure that this contamination does not occur again.

    Therefore, safeguard measures were necessary to protect public health. By Commission Decision 2008/352/EC of 29 April 2008 imposing special conditions governing guar gum originating in or consigned from India due to contamination risks of those products by pentachlorophenol and dioxins it is required that all consignments of guar gum or products containing guar gum at significant amounts originating in or consigned from India and imported into the Community intended for human or animal consumption, shall be accompanied by an analytical report, endorsed by the competent authority from the country where the laboratory which has performed the analysis is located.

    A follow-up inspection mission of the FVO took place in India from 1-12 October 2009 to assess the control measures put in place by the Indian authorities to prevent contamination of guar gum with pentachlorophenol (PCP) and dioxins and to follow-up the recommendations of the mission that took place in October 2007.

    Several serious deficiencies were observed during the mission and the findings indicate that the contamination of guar gum with PCP cannot be regarded as an isolated incident and that only the effective analysis by the approved private laboratory has prevented contaminated product being further exported to the European Union. There has been no improvement in the control system and no significant reduction in the risks associated.

    Therefore additional measures were necessarily to be taken requiring official sampling, analysis and certification by the competent authorities of India of all consignments of guar gum intended for export to the EU. Therefore the measures were reviewed and Commission Regulation (EU) No 258/2010 replacing Decision 2008/433/EC was adopted and is applicable as from 15 April 2010.

  • Dioxins in pork meat in Ireland

    During routine monitoring by the Irish authorities of the food chain for a range of contaminants, elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in pig meat originating in Ireland. The first pig farms were immediately blocked on 1 December 2008. As these PCB levels might be an indicator for unacceptable dioxin contamination, further investigations were immediately started to determine the dioxin content and to identify the possible source of contamination.

    The European Commission has been informed through the RASFF on 5 December 2008 of the contamination incident. The use of contaminated bread crumbs produced from bakery waste was identified to be the source. The contamination was due to the direct heating process whereby combustion gases come in direct contact with the material to dry and whereby an inappropriate fuel was used. Evidence indicates that the contamination problem was likely to have started in September 2008. All possibly contaminated feed has been blocked.

    EFSA issued on 10 December a statement on the risks for public health due to the presence of dioxins in pork from Ireland.

    The Commission, based upon the conclusions of the EFSA statement, issued on 10 December 2008 guidelines for the management of the Irish contamination incident to ensure that potentially highly contaminated products were quickly removed from the market for the protection of public health. These guidelines aimed also at ensuring a harmonised enforcement approach at EU level.

  • Dioxin contamination incident in feed in Germany

    On 27 December 2010, the German authorities informed the European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) that a batch of fatty acids, which was meant to be used for technical purposes, got mixed with fat for the production of feed. More information relating to this incident can be found here.

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