Written Q&A to EU Commission – Contaminants and crab meat

Subject: Standards for the mitten crab

In large parts of the Netherlands it is forbidden to catch the mitten crab due to supposed risks to public health (from dioxins and PCBs, amongst other things). At present there is only a European standard covering the white meat of the crab, as a result of which the Dutch Government was able to introduce its own catch ban based on the brown meat. In all other EU Member States, the brown meat is not taken into account and the crabs may be caught. With no clear European standard for all edible parts of the crab at present, there is also no level playing field.

1. Does the Commission agree with me that the current situation, whereby there is no clear standard covering all edible parts of the mitten crab, is undesirable?

2. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reportedly looking into the desirability of standardisation in respect of all edible parts of the mitten crab in connection with food safety. When does the Commission expect a definitive decision in this regard? Is standardisation a given in time?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

Taking into account the different interpretations with regard to the part of crabs to be analysed for cadmium, it has been clarified that the maximum level established in the annex to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (1) in crabs and crab-like crustaceans applies to the muscle meat from appendages (legs and claws) only. For reasons of consistency, the part of crustaceans to which the maximum levels of dioxins and PCBs apply has been modified accordingly.

For consumers eating regularly the brown meat of crabs, an information note for the consumers has been made available on the website of the Commission (2).

Given the recent findings of dioxins and PCBs in mitten crab, an assessment is currently ongoing to verify if the usually consumed edible part from the mitten crab differs from the usually consumed edible part of other crabs and crab-like crustaceans.

In addition, Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU (3) recommends Member States to monitor the presence of dioxins and PCBs in mitten crab.

The outcome of the assessment and the results of the monitoring will enable the Commission to decide on the maximum level for dioxins and PCBs to apply in the case of mitten crab.

⋅1∙ Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs (OJ L 364, 20.12.2006, p. 5).

⋅2∙ http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/chemicalsafety/contaminants/information_note_cons_brown_crab_en.pdf

⋅3∙ Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU of of 3 December 2013 on the reduction of the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs in feed and food (OJ L 323, 4.12.2013, p. 37).

© European Union, 2014 – Source: European Parliament

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