EUROPE – In accordance with revised legislation on the frequency of official controls and emergency measures for food of non-animal origin imported into Europe, modified every six months, the European Commission has relaxed checks on certain commodities and increased controls on others.

Decisions are taken in the first half of 2022 based on notifications posted to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) site and data from member state physical, identification, and document checks.

Following a multi-national Salmonella Braenderup outbreak in January 2022, requirements for testing on 10% of Galia melons from Honduras were removed.

There were 350 incidences of illness in 2021, with the majority occurring in the UK, four cases in the U.S, and two in Canada.

Food dyes and ethylene oxide

In order to comply with EU regulations on maximum residue levels for ethylene oxide, consignments of vanilla extract from the United States must be accompanied by an official certificate.

Shipments that were dispatched before mid-February are permitted entry into the EU till October 16, 2023. They will nevertheless be subject to 20% more frequent checks.

Other ethylene oxide-related modifications include tomato ketchup and other tomato sauces from Mexico, calcium carbonate from India, and food supplements containing South Korean botanicals, Moroccan locust bean goods, and Malaysian locust bean products.

Since January 2019, betel leaves from India have been subject to heightened official oversight and additional requirements due to the potential for Salmonella contamination.

However, this has been changed to checks on 30% of shipments because they haven’t been imported into the EU for three years.

Since July 2017, Nigerian sesame seeds have also been subject to stricter inspections due to Salmonella.

Now, fifty percent of shipments must be examined and contain an official certificate demonstrating compliance with EU legislation.

Sesame seeds from Türkiye will be examined at a frequency of 20% due to potential Salmonella contamination.

Due to the possibility of contamination by Rhodamine B, a dye that shouldn’t be used in food, tighter controls on Lebanon-sourced turnips have been in place since July 2018.

Batches will need to include an official certificate proving conformity with EU regulations as the rate of checks has reached 50%. 

However, Rhodamine B-related restrictions on turnips from Syria have been lifted.

The frequency of the Côte d’Ivoire palm oil controls for Sudan dyes has been set at 20%.

In the EU, food containing these dyes is not allowed because they are used to color non-food products.

Mycotoxins adjustments

The 20 percent frequency of testing for aflatoxins in peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut paste imported from the United States has not changed.

Since October 2019, groundnut, or peanut, products from Argentina have been subject to more frequent checks for aflatoxins. However, due to improved compliance, this regulation has been lifted.

Meanwhile, Bolivian groundnut products will now require an official certificate demonstrating their adherence to EU regulations, and they will be inspected at a frequency of 50% due to the high rate of non-compliance.

Brazil nuts from Brazil no longer require a formal certificate proving conformity, but will still undergo a 50% aflatoxin screening.

In addition, Aflatoxin and ochratoxin A inspections on Pakistani rice have soared to a 10% frequency while the Aflatoxin controls on certain peppers from India have dropped to 10%.

Aflatoxin testing will be done on dried fig products from Turkey 30% of the time.

Further, cumin seeds and dried oregano from Turkey will need to be tested at a level of 20% due to contamination by pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.