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European Commission lowers the maximum residue limits of lead in food

The European Commission has approved lowering the maximum lead content in certain food products, including different fruits, vegetables, and tubers, due to the potential negative impact that this heavy metal can have on health.

(EU) Regulation 2021/1317, published on Tuesday in the Official Journal of the European Union, which modifies Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006, specifies that, according to the European Food Safety Authority, “lead can cause developmental neurotoxicity in young children and cardiovascular problems and nephrotoxicity in adults. In addition, since there is no proven threshold for these effects, one cannot deduce that there is a tolerable weekly intake of this element." The Authority also expressed its concern that current levels of dietary exposure to lead may affect the neurodevelopment of fetuses, infants, and children.

The regulation details the new limits by product category and includes a new category for "wild mushrooms, fresh turmeric, and fresh ginger", which was not previously listed.

“Since lead is a weak indirect genotoxic carcinogen, and therefore its presence poses a high risk to public health, the products marketed before the entry into force of this Regulation that do not respect the new Maximum lead levels should only be able to stay on the market for a short time," the regulation states. Thus, it establishes that the food products that appear in the annex to the Regulation and that have been legally marketed before its entry into force - effective twenty days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union - "may remain on the market until February 28, 2022."



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