‘Contaminant’ means any substance not intentionally added to food which is present in such food as a result of the production, manufacturing, processing or holding of such food, or as a result of environmental contamination (for example lead). These substances are not deliberately added, but they are present in the environment.

In the EU maximum levels have been established for the following contaminants :

  • Mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, fusarium-toxins, patulin, citrinin);
  • Metals (cadmium, lead, mercury, inorganic tin, arsenic);
  • Dioxins and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs);
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH);
  • 3-MCPD;
  • Melamine;
  • Erucic acid; and
  • Nitrates.

Special conditions for the entry into the Union due to contamination risk by mycotoxins, including aflatoxins, pesticide residues, pentachlorophenol and dioxins and microbiological contamination are included in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1793 (see import control on food and feed of non-animal origin).

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