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Food Contaminants - Introduction

Contaminants are substances that have not been intentionally added to food. These substances may be present in food as a result of the various stages of its production, packaging, transport or holding. They also might result from environmental contamination. Since contamination generally has a negative impact on the quality of food and may imply a risk to human health, the EU has taken measures to minimise contaminants in foodstuffs.

Proposals for maximum levels of other contaminants, such as Fusarium toxins (deoxynivalenol and other trichothecenes, zeaalenone, fumonisins) are being considered.

Chemicals for which investigations are ongoing:

  • Acrylamide
  • Organotins - chemicals which can be found in water systems due to their presence in paints as anti-biofouling agents e.g. used on the hulls of ships and marine apparatus. Work is ongoing to clarify the possible presence and risks in food.
  • (SCOOP reportpdf)

  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) - following the Opinion pdf of the Scientific Committee on Food the Commission is developing possible legislation to set maximum levels in particular for benzo(a)pyrene in certain foods.


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