As the science and knowledge service of the European Commission, the Joint Research Centre's mission is to support EU policies with independent evidence throughout the whole policy cycle.
Cadmium is a heavy metal arriving into the food and feed chain through industrial and agricultural sources. Accumulation of cadmium in the human body can cause health problems. Maximum levels for cadmium in a broad range of food products exist since 2001 and are set in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006.
Following a recent scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the maximum levels for cadmium need to be lowered especially in food that are major contributors to exposure and in food for infants and young children. In response to the EFSA opinion, Commission Recommendation of 4th April 2014 requests from EU Member States mitigation measures to be implemented by farmers and food business operators. Moreover, new maximum levels were set for chocolate and cocoa powder to be adopted until 2019; and for baby food such as infant formula to come into force in 2015.
Based on the outcome of proficiency tests (IMEP-113 and IMEP-33) organised by the EURL-HM in which national reference and official control laboratories participated, confidence was gained that low levels of cadmium can be correctly determined in infant formula. This was the pre-requisite for lowering the maximum levels in food for babies and toddlers.
Moreover, the quality assurance tools provided by the EURL-HM such as reference materials, proficiency testing schemes and state-of-the-art analytical methods will support EU Member States’ laboratories in their task to implement the latest revision of Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006.