European Council sets limits for dioxins in human and animal food

The European Council has adopted a regulation setting legally binding limits on dioxins and other contaminants in human food and animal feed which will now come into effect on 1 July 2002.


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In July this year, the Commission put forward its proposals for ‘strict but feasible’ maximum limits for dioxins in food (see related story). Following this, the Council has adopted a rule that states that any food exceeding the new limits will be excluded from the food chain. However, Finland and Sweden have been given an exemption from the regulation in order to continue marketing Baltic fish that exceed the limits for local consumption until 2006.

“I am pleased to see the ministers recognise that we need to be uncompromising and severe on contaminants in food,” said Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne. “This new legislation, in setting legally binding limits, sets a new milestone in the EU’s feed and food safety strategy. Only a very few countries in the world have yet set legally binding levels for dioxins in food.”

“Our strategy aims to deal with a complicated cycle of contamination necessitating simultaneously measures to reduce the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs in environment, feedingstuffs and foodstuffs,” said Byrne. “While these measures offer protection of consumer health, the ultimate goal must be to further reduce dioxin release at the source, to stop it from entering the environment.”

The Commission is also calling for national monitoring activities in member states in order to verify dioxin levels, and has announced Commission initiatives for establishing concrete guidelines for this monitoring work, notably for the number of samples to be taken for each category of food. The data will be used to form the basis for any further revision of the maximum levels adopted this week.

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