proposes very stringent rules on pesticide residues in
The European Commission has decided to
submit stringent draft rules on pesticide residues in
baby food to the Standing Committee for Foodstuffs. The
proposal is to add new provisions to Directive 96/4/EC on
infant formulae and follow-on formulae and Directive
96/5/EC on processed cereal-based and baby foods for
infants and young children to ensure that baby food
contains no detectable levels of pesticide residues.
Until now differences have remained in the Member States'
legislation on this subject. In future, baby food will be
allowed to contain not more than 0.01 mg of pesticide
residues per kg. A value of zero is considered below the
limit of detection because of the slight inaccuracies in
the measurement methods available.
Two reasons prompted the Commission to
decide to harmonise the limit values at this extremely
stringent level: first, in the past the differences
between the regulations in the Member States have caused
trade barriers. Second, at the end of 1997 the Scientific
Committee for Food revised its earlier opinion that a
limit value of 0.04 mg/kg gave no cause for concern and
recommanded a cautious approach. This proposal from the
Commission brings the standards up to those in the Member
States having already strict legislation on this matter
(Austria, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg).
The Commission has set the value at
0.01 mg/kg as a precaution so that no acute health hazard
would ensue if it were exceeded slightly. On the basis of
the latest scientific opinion, however, the Commission
considered a prudent approach appropriate. For the vast
majority of the 800 or more different pesticides notified
to the Commission, no scientific data are yet available
on the maximum residue levels known to be harmless for
infants. The Directives allow different levels to be set
for residues of individual pesticides in the future as
soon as warranted by new scientific findings.
Around 40% of the products on the
European market meet the proposed limit value already.
Other manufacturers will, however, need time to adjust
their supplies, manufacturing processes and, in
particular, raw material sources in order to meet these
lower limits. They must therefore be allowed an
appropriate transition period. For this reason, trade in
products which do not comply with the Directives will not
be banned definitively until 31 december 2001.
The proposal to amend these two
Directives will be submitted to the Standing Committee on
Foodstuffs, which is made up of representatives of the
Member States. If it is approved by a qualified majority
there, the Commission may then adopt the Directives. If
not, the Commission will submit the proposals to the
Council of Ministers for a decision.
Released on 16/10/98