At Community level irradiated foods and food ingredients are regulated by:
Framework Directive 1999/2/EC
of the European Parliament and Council on the approximation of the laws of Member States concerning foods and food ingredients
treated with ionising radiation. The Directive covers general and technical aspects for carrying out the process, labelling
of irradiated foods and conditions for authorising food irradiation.
of the European Parliament and Council on the establishment of a Community list of food and food ingredients treated with
ionising radiation. So far, this list of products authorised for irradiation within the whole EU contains only a single
food category: "dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings".
The Framework Directive sets out that:
- The treatment with ionising radiation of a specific food item may only be authorised if :
- there is a reasonable technological need;
- it presents no health hazard;
- it is of benefit to the consumers;
- it is not used as a substitute for hygiene and health practices or for good manufacturing or agricultural practice;
- Any food irradiated as such or containing irradiated food ingredients has to be labelled
- A favourable opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) is needed to place a specific food item on the EU-wide list of products authorised for irradiation.
the SCF expressed favourable opinions on irradiation of fruit,
vegetables, cereals, starchy tubers, spices and condiments,
fish, shellfish, fresh meats, poultry, camembert from raw
milk, frog legs, gum arabic, casein/caseinates, egg white,
cereal flakes, rice flour, and blood products. The SCF emphasised
that food irradiation must not be used to cover negligence
in handling foodstuffs or to mask their unsuitability for
use as food.
On 4 April 2003, the SCF expressed a
revised opinion on the
irradiation of food. The SCF confirmed its former position
by concluding that only those specific irradiation doses and
food classes should be endorsed, for which adequate toxicological,
nutritional, microbiological and technical data are available.
National Authorisations allowing the irradiation of certain
foods within Member States can be maintained until the completed
EU-wide list of products authorised for irradiation enters
- Member States may also maintain restrictions
or bans on irradiated foods, in compliance with the rules
of the Treaty, until the completed EU-wide list of products
authorised for irradiation enters into force.
- Member States shall ensure that the
analytical methods used to detect irradiated foods are validated
or standardised. The European Committee for Standardisation
(CEN) has standardised a number of analytical
developed with the financial support of the European Commission.
- Foodstuffs may only be irradiated
approved irradiation facilities in the Member State
irradiation facilities in third countries which have been approved by the Community
Approval of facilities in the Member States is given by their
national competent authorities. Decisions about EU approval of facilities in third countries
are based on the results of
inspections performed by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of
the European Commission.
- Member States have to inform the Commission
of their Competent Authorities
(revision date 6 June 2004)