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.
European Union measures (establishment of maximum levels) have been taken for the following contaminants:
- mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, fusarium-toxins, patulin, citrinin)
- metals (cadmium, lead, mercury, inorganic tin, arsenic)
- dioxins and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)
- erucic acid
The European Commission has published a factsheet on food contaminants: "Managing food contaminants: how the EU ensures that our food is safe".