QeA to the EU Commission – German beer contaminated with glyphosate

A bit of clarity on this issue, which recently landed on all the EU newspapers, was really needed…scroll down for more.

Question for written answer to the Commission

– Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL) , Anja Hazekamp (GUE/NGL) , Klaus Buchner (Verts/ALE) –

25th February 2016

Subject: German beer contaminated with glyphosate

On 25 February 2016, the Umweltinstitut München e.V. (Munich Environmental Institute) published a study on the contamination of German beer with the pesticide glyphosate.

The test results show that the residue levels of glyphosate in the various beers range from 0.46 to 29.74 micrograms of glyphosate per litre of beer. This is of great concern, as the current maximum residue level for glyphosate in drinking water is 0.1 micrograms per litre, but there are currently no maximum residue levels set for beer in EU legislation.

1. Given the health risks posed by glyphosate, why has the Commission not set any maximum residue levels for glyphosate in beer?

2. In the Commission’s opinion, to what extent have the German authorities been negligent in allowing the placing on the market of mass consumption goods that contain high residue levels of a pesticide that is known for its health risks?

3. What actions is the Commission planning to take to safeguard the health and safety of EU consumers, given the large scale of beer consumption in the EU?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 22nd April 2016

In Annex II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005, maximum residue levels (MRLs) are set for raw agricultural commodities such as barley and hops. Since beer is a processed and composite product for which no specific MRL is set, the MRL for beer applied by competent authorities is derived from the MRLs for raw agricultural commodities (barley: 20 mg/kg, hops: 0.1 mg/kg), taking into account changes in the levels of pesticide residues caused by processing.

The Commission is not aware that the competent authorities in Germany had allowed the placing on the market of beer that did not comply with the applicable MRL. However, the glyphosate residue levels in the German beer samples quoted by the Honourable Members suggest that the concentrations were well below the legal limit (i.e. the MRL), which in turn is based on the residue levels expected according to good agricultural practice and well below the level that would be necessary to protect human health.

The Commission continues to work closely with Member States’ competent authorities to ensure that MRLs established in the legislation are complied with, and that food products are safe for human consumption.

(Source: EU Parliament)

Food recalls in EU – Week 29-30/2015

This week on the EU RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we can find the following notifications:

1. Alerts followed by a recall from consumers:

– Allergens: undeclared mustard in cooked Lyoner sausage from Germany, following an official control on the market. Notified by Germany, distributed also to France, Ireland and Netherlands;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp. (presence/25g) in smoked ham from Germany, following company’s own check. Notified by France;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella typhimurium (presence/10g) in merguez – sausages from France, following company’s own check. Notified by France, distributed also to Austria and Germany;

– Pesticide residues: methomyl (0.32 mg/kg – ppm) in grapes from Egypt, via the Netherlands, following an official control on the market. notified by Denmark.

2. Information for attention/for follow up followed by a recall from consumers:

– Aflatoxins: ochratoxin A (28 µg/kg – ppb) in organic seedless raisins with oil from Australia, following company’s own check. Notified by Denmark;

– Non pathogenic micro-organisms: bacterial growth in dressing from Sweden, following a consumer complaint. Notified by Denmark, distributed also to Iceland;

– Non pathogenic micro-organisms: naan bread from the United Kingdom infested with mouldsfollowing company’s own check. Notified by Denmark, distributed also to Iceland;

– Non pathogenic micro-organisms: liver pate from Germany infested with moulds (Penicillium and Rhizopus), following an official control on the market. Notified by Slovakia;

– Residues of medicinal veterinary products: prohibited substance nitrofuran (metabolite) furazolidone (AOZ) (4.9 µg/kg – ppb) in frozen king prawns from Vietnam, following an official control on the market. Notified by Germany.

3. Alerts followed by a withdrawal from the market:

– Allergens: undeclared peanut in dried fruits with chocolate from the Netherlands, following a consumer complaint. Notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Belgium, France, Germany and Serbia;

– Allergens: undeclared gluten and fish in Worcester sauce from the United Kingdom, following a consumer complaint. Notified by Ireland;

– Allergens: undeclared sulphite in Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) from Croatia, following an official control on the market. Notified from Italy;

– Allergens: undeclared egg (>2.5 mg/kg – ppm) in fish cutlets from the Netherlands, following an official control on the market. Notified by Italy;

– Composition: too high content of vitamin B6 (1.82 g/100g) in food supplement from unknown origin, via the Netherlands, following an official control on the market. Notified by France;

– Composition: too high content of vitamin B6 in food supplement from Belgium, following an official control on the market. Notified by Sweden, distributed also to United Kingdom;

– Composition: high content of Senna alexandrina Mill. in herbal infusion from Thailand, via the Netherlands, following an official control on the market. Notified by Denmark, distributed also to Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Spain and Sweden;

– FCM (Food Contact Materials): migration of formaldehyde (346 mg/kg – ppm) from melamine bowls from China, via Spain, following an official control on the market. Notified by France;

Heavy metals: mercury (1.29; 1.8 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen blue shark (Prionace glauca) from Spain, following an official control on the market. Notified by Spain, distributed also to Portugal;

– Industrial contaminants: dioxins (3.44; 4.06; 3.88; 2.84; 3.39; pg WHO TEQ/g) in organic eggs from the Netherlands, following an official control on the market. Notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Belgium and France;

– Mycotoxins: ochratoxin A (11.83 µg/kg – ppb) in raisins from Chile, via Argentina and via the Czech Republic, following an official control on the market. Notified by Slovakia;

– Pesticide residues: ethylene oxide (2.5 mg/kg – ppm) in black pepper from Vietnam, following company’s own check. Notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Belgium, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Switzerland, and United States.

4. Seizures:

In Italy we had a seizure for aflatoxins (B1 = 19 µg/kg – ppb) in pistachios from Iran, via Germany, following an official control on the market.

5. Border rejections:

  • aflatoxins (B1 = 7.8; Tot. = 8.5 µg/kg – ppb) in peanuts in shell, shelled peanuts (B1 = 9.5; Tot. = 11 µg/kg – ppb) and peanut powder (B1 = 9.9; Tot. = 24.9 / B1 = 13.1; Tot. = 28.8 µg/kg – ppb) from China
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 16.1; Tot. = 17.2 µg/kg – ppb) in whole stemless chilli from India
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 16.4; Tot. = 46.7 µg/kg – ppb) and ochratoxin A (92.5 µg/kg – ppb) in spiced red pepper powder from Ethiopia
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 22.03; Tot. = 44.45 µg/kg – ppb) in roasted red inside pistachio nuts from Turkey
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 6.9; Tot. = 7.3 µg/kg – ppb) in groundnuts in shell from Egypt
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 8.1; Tot. = 8.6 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled peanuts from the United States
  • absence of health certificate(s) for curry leaves from India and for watermelon seeds from Nigeria
  • attempt to illegally import fresh mint from Vietnam
  • biphenyl (0.12 mg/kg – ppm) in fermented tea from China
  • cadmium (2.99 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen squid (loligo spp) from Yemen
  • chlorpyrifos (0.03 mg/kg – ppm), cypermethrin (0.86 mg/kg – ppm) and dimethoate (0.038 mg/kg – ppm) and unauthorised substances dichlorvos (6.3 mg/kg – ppm) and trichlorfon (8.4 mg/kg – ppm) in brown beans from Nigeria
  • chlorpyrifos (0.52 mg/kg – ppm) and unauthorised substance chlorfenapyr (0.04 mg/kg – ppm) in chinese brocoli from China
  • dodine (0.18 mg/kg – ppm) in red cherry peppers in brine and hot peppers in brine (0.13 mg/kg – ppm) from Egypt
  • dodine (0.30 mg/kg – ppm) and unauthorised substance carbendazim (0.38 mg/kg – ppm) in red cherry pepper in brine (Capsicum annuum) from Egypt
  • difenoconazole (0.22 mg/kg – ppm) in fresh mangoes from Brazil
  • FCM: migration of chromium (1 mg/l) and too high level of overall migration (29 mg/dm²) from stainless steel knives from China
  • FCM: migration of chromium (3.5 mg/l) and too high level of overall migration (14 mg/dm²) from stainless knives from China
  • FCM: migration of chromium (0.8 mg) from steel fish tong from China
  • formetanate (0.180 mg/kg – ppm) in sweet peppers and fresh peppers (0.03 mg/kg – ppm) from Turkey
  • fraudulent health certificate(s) for groundnuts and shelled groundnuts from China
  • Listeria monocytogenes (presence /25g) in frozen surimi (Nemipterus spp) from Thailand
  • mercury (2.889; 2.659; 2.734; 2.751; 1.270; 1.374; 1.277; 1.267 mg/kg – ppm) in chilled swordfish (Xiphias gladius) from Ecuador
  • methamidophos (0.244 mg/kg – ppm) in fresh peppers from Turkey and in green beans with pods (0.067 mg/kg – ppm) from Kenya
  • mercury (0.90 mg/kg – ppm) in red porgy (Pagrus pagrus) from Morocco
  • poor temperature control ( >-5 °C) of frozen cod portions and fillets (Gadus macrocephalus) from China, of of frozen red salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) (-3.4, -4.6, -3.2, -3.6 °C) from the United States and of frozen squisds (Illex spp) (-2.1 °C) from Argentina
  • Salmonella (present /25g) in frozen poultry meat preparation from Thailand
  • Salmonella spp. (presence /25g) in paan leaves and betel leaves from India
  • Salmonella spp. (presence /25g) in frozen salted skinless boneless chicken breasts and frozen salted chicken (presence/25g) from Thailand
  • too high content of sulphite (2685 mg/kg – ppm) in dried apricots from Turkey
  • unauthorised colour Sudan 4 (1.0 mg/kg – ppm) in palm oil from Nigeria
  • unauthorised substance carbofuran (0.16 mg/kg – ppm) in yardlong bean from the Dominican Republic
  • unauthorised substance carbendazim (1.4 mg/kg – ppm) in dragon fruit from Thailand
  • unauthorised substance permethrin (0.23 mg/kg – ppm) in dragon fruit from Vietnam
  • unauthorised placing on the market (Anacylus pyrethrum, contains L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine as BCAAs) of, unauthorised novel food ingredient Dendrobium nobile, novel food ingredient Eurycoma longifolia and novel food ingredient Mucuna pruriens and unauthorised substances vanadium and arginine alphaketoglutarate in food supplements from the United States
  • undeclared peanut in sesame paste from China