Regulatory framework for contaminants in food

Council Regulation (EEC) 315/93 of 8 February 1993 specifies Community procedures for contaminants in food (2) and is the basic regulation governing the measures on contaminants in food. A contaminant is defined as any substance unintentionally added to food and present therein in the form of a residue from production, manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packing, packaging, transport or storage or as a result of environmental con tamination. The Regulation does not apply to contaminants covered by more specific EU-legislation. The Regulation provides:

• That food containing a contaminant at an unacceptable level from the public health viewpoint, and in particular at a toxicological level, shall not be sold.

• That contaminant levels shall be as low as can reasonably be achieved following good practices at all stages of production and distribution.

• That, when necessary for protecting public health, maximum levels shall be established for specific contaminants. These limits may include a reference to the sampling and analytical methods to be used for official control.

• For an obligatory consultation with the Scientific Panel on "Contaminants in the Food Chain" of EFSA before provisions that affect public health are adopted.

The Regulation also provides that Member States may not prohibit trade in foods that comply with this Regulation for any reason related to the aspects covered by the provisions of the Regulation. A safeguard clause also is included that enables Member States to temporarily suspend or restrict marketing on their territory of any foodstuff suspected of containing contaminants that would endanger human health.

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