Regulatory framework for contaminants in feed

Directive 2002/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 May 2002 on undesirable substances in animal feed governs the measures on undesirable substances in feed. An "undesirable substance" is any substance or product, with the exception of pathogenic agents, that are present in and/or on a product intended for animal feed that presents a potential danger to animal or human health or to the environment or could adversely affect livestock production. The Regulation does not apply to contaminants or undesirable substances covered by more specific EU-legislation. The Regulation provides:

• That products intended for animal feed may enter the Community and be marketed and used in the Community only if they are sound, genuine and of merchantable quality and therefore do not present a danger to human health, animal health or to the environment, and do not adversely affect livestock production.

• That maximum levels and action levels can be set for undesirable substances in all products intended for animal feed. Feed containing an undesirable substance above the "maximum level" cannot be marketed and/or used for animal feeding. If a feed contains an undesirable substance at a level greater than the "action level", then Member States, in cooperation with the economic operator(s) concerned, must investigate to identify the source(s) of the substance(s). They also must inform the Commission of the outcome of these investigations and the measures taken as regards the sources of contamination to reduce the level of the substances or eliminate them.

• That products intended for animal feeding containing levels of an undesirable substance that exceed the maximum level may not be mixed for dilution purposes with the same, or other, products intended for animal feed.

• That detoxification is allowed by chemical treatment. Member States shall ensure that measures are taken to guarantee the correct application of these detoxification processes and to guarantee the conformity of the detoxified products intended for animal feed with the provisions of the Directive.

• For an obligatory consultation with the Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain of the EFSA before provisions with effects on public or animal health or on the environment are adopted.

The Directive, furthermore, prevents Member States from prohibiting trade in feeds that comply with this Directive for any reason related to the aspects covered by the provisions of the Directive. A safeguard clause also is included that allows Member States to temporarily suspend or restrict sales in their territory of any feedstuff suspected of containing contaminants that endanger human or animal health or the environment.

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