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Food Safety


The basic principles of EU legislation on contaminants in food are laid down in Council Regulation 315/93/EEC:

  • Food containing a contaminant to an amount unacceptable from the public health viewpoint and in particular at a toxicological level, shall not be placed on the market

  • Contaminant levels shall be kept as low as can reasonably be achieved following recommended good working practices

  • Maximum levels must be set for certain contaminants in order to protect public health

Maximum levels for certain contaminants in food are set in Commission Regulation (EU) 2023/915. Maximum levels in certain foods are set for the following contaminants:

  • mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins, citrinine, ergot sclerotia and ergot alkaloids)
  • plant toxins (erucic acid, tropane alkaloids, hydrocyanic acid, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, opium alkaloids, Δ9-THC)
  • metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, inorganic tin)
  • halogenated persistent organic pollutants (dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs, non dioxin-like PCBs; perfluoroalkyl substances: PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS)
  • processing contaminants (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH): benzo(a)pyrene, sum of 4 PAHs; 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD), glycidyl fatty acid esters)
  • other contaminants (nitrates, melamine, perchlorate)

Commission Recommendations