EU tightens limits on cancer-causing cadmium, lead levels in food – EURACTIV.com

The European Commission has set new maximum levels for two carcinogenic food contaminants, cadmium and lead, in a range of food products, which will come into effect at the end of this month.

The measures, announced by the EU administration on 11 August, aim to further reduce the presence of carcinogenic contaminants in food and make healthy food more accessible, a key objective of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the Commission said in a statement. statement.

The new limits for lead and cadmium will apply from August 30 and August 31, respectively.

While some foodstuffs must comply with this requirement from the date of entry into force of the new regulation, others are allowed a short transitional period.

In addition, maximum lead levels in many foods, including foods for infants and toddlers, will be reduced. New maximum lead levels will also be set for various foods, such as wild mushrooms, spices and salt.

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Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal that has been linked to a range of cancers, including the lung, endometrium, bladder and chest.

The main source of cadmium exposure for nonsmokers is food, in products such as grains and grain products, vegetables, nuts and legumes, starchy roots or potatoes, and meat and meat products.

Due to their high consumption of these foods, vegetarians have a higher dietary exposure. Other vulnerable groups include children, smokers and people living in highly contaminated areas.

Similarly, lead can be found in a range of foods, including spices, and salt in foods for infants, but it has been shown that the developmental neurotoxicity caused by young children and cardiovascular problems and nephrotoxicity in adults.

The decision follows two opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on cadmium and lead in food in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Both EFSA opinions warned of current levels of dietary exposure and emphasized that cadmium exposure in the EU often exceeded recommended limits and that current levels of dietary lead exposure may impair neurological development in fetuses, infants and children. influence.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said the decision was “the consumer in the first place to put our food safer and healthier to make, as we promised to do in the European cancer plan”.

“It is also another step in reinforcing the already high world-class EU standards in the EU food chain and providing safer, healthier and more sustainable food for our citizens,” she said.

“It is also a further step in strengthening the already high and world class standards of the European Union in the EU food chain and providing safer, healthier and more sustainable food to our citizens,” she added.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]

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