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Processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children

Processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children are very closely monitored in the European Union. The legislation lays down harmonised standards for the composition (list of authorised products) and labelling of products of this type. Pesticide residues which may endanger the health of this sensitive population group are prohibited or controlled on the basis of maximum permissible quantities which may not exceed the acceptable daily intake values.

ACT

Commission Directive 2006/125/EC of 5 December 2006 on processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children (codified version).

SUMMARY

This Directive is a specific directive within the meaning of Article 4 of Directive 89/398/EEC.

Scope

This Directive covers foodstuffs for particular nutritional use that fulfil the nutritional requirements of infants * and young children * in good health and are intended for use by infants while they are being weaned, and by young children as a supplement to their diet and/or for their progressive adaptation to ordinary food. They comprise:

- 'processed cereal-based foods', which are divided into the following four categories:

  • simple cereals which are or have to be reconstituted with milk or other appropriate nutritious liquids;
  • cereals with an added high protein food which are or have to be reconstituted with water or other protein-free liquid;
  • pastas which are to be used after cooking in boiling water or other appropriate liquids;
  • rusks and biscuits which are to be used either directly or, after pulverisation, with the addition of water, milk or other suitable liquids;

- "baby foods" other than processed cereal-based foods.

This Directive does not apply to milks intended for young children.

General obligation

Member States must ensure that only products which comply with this Directive are marketed in the European Union (EU).

Composition

Only ingredients suitable for particular nutritional use for infants and young children (supported by scientific data) may be used in the manufacture of the foods concerned.

Processed cereal-based foods must comply with the compositional criteria specified in Annex I.

Baby foods which are described in Annex II must comply with the compositional criteria specified therein.

Only the nutritional substances listed in Annex IV may be added in the manufacture of processed cereal-based foods and baby foods within the maximum limits laid down by the directive. The purity criteria for those substances must be laid down at a later stage.

Processed cereal-based foods and baby foods may not contain any substance in such quantity as to endanger the health of infants and young children (see Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 under 'Related acts' below).

Labelling

In addition to the mandatory particulars stipulated by Directive 2000/13/EC, labelling must bear the following information:

  • the age from which the product may be used, which must not be less than four months. Products recommended for use from the age of four months may indicate that they are suitable from that age unless persons having qualifications in medicine, nutrition etc. advise otherwise;
  • the presence or absence of gluten if the indicated age from which the product may be used is below six months;
  • the available energy value (in kJ and kcal) and the protein, carbohydrate and lipid content (in numerical form) per 100 g or 100 ml of the product as sold and, where appropriate, per specified quantity of the product as proposed for consumption;
  • the average quantity of each mineral substance and of each vitamin governed by a specific level in Annex I and Annex II respectively, expressed in numerical form, per 100 g or 100 ml of the product as sold and, where appropriate, per specified quantity of the product as proposed for consumption;
  • instructions for appropriate preparation, when necessary, and a statement as to the importance of following those instructions.

The labelling may include non-mandatory particulars:

  • the average quantity of the nutrients set out in Annex IV (in numerical form) per 100 g or 100 ml of the product as sold and, where appropriate, per specified quantity of the product as proposed for consumption;
  • information on vitamins and minerals shown in Annex V (as a percentage of the reference values given therein) per 100 g or 100 ml of the product as sold, and where appropriate, per specified quantity of the product as proposed for consumption, provided that the quantities present are at least equal to 15% of the reference values.

Maximum pesticide levels

This Directive sets the maximum permissible level of pesticide residues in processed cereal-based foods and baby foods at 0.01 mg/kg, except for certain substances whose limit is laid down in Annex VI.

Standardised analytical methods must be used for determining the presence of pesticide residues.

Prohibited pesticides

This Directive prohibits the use of certain pesticides in agricultural products intended for baby foods (list in Annex VII).

For pesticides or pesticide metabolites in this list, the maximum level of 0.01 mg/kg may be excessive for infants and young children. This is the case for pesticides or metabolites of pesticides with an acceptable daily intake lower than 0.0005 mg/kg body weight.

The limit of quantification of the analytical methods is 0.003 mg/kg. At this level pesticides are considered not to have been used. This limit may be altered in the light of technical progress or data on environmental contamination.

Key terms used in the act
  • Infants: children under the age of twelve months
  • Young children: children aged between one and three years
  • Pesticide residues: residues of a plant protection product in processed cereal-based foods and baby foods, including its metabolites (intermediate products created during cell metabolism) and products resulting from its degradation or reaction.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2006/125/EC26.12.2006-OJ L 339 of 6.12.2006

RELATED ACTS

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs [Official Journal L 364 of 20.12.2006].
This Regulation establishes maximum levels which are as low as reasonably achievable for foods for infants and young children in order to protect the health of this vulnerable population group.
It establishes the following maximum levels for these foods:

  • nitrates: 200 mg/kg;
  • aflatoxins B1: 0.10 micrograms/kg;
  • aflatoxin M1: 0.025 micrograms/kg;
  • ochratoxin A: 0.50 micrograms/kg; the same maximum level also applies to dietary foods for special medical purposes intended specifically for infants;
  • patulin: 10 micrograms/kg;
  • deoxynivalenol: 200 micrograms/kg;
  • zearalenone: 20 micrograms/kg; the same maximum level also applies to maize-based foods for infants and young children;
  • fumonsins: 200 micrograms/kg for maize-based foods for infants and young children;
  • lead: 0.020 mg/kg wet weight;
  • inorganic tin: 50 mg/kg wet weight; the same maximum level also applies to infant formulae and follow-on formulae, and to canned dietary foods for special medical purposes intended specifically for infants, excluding dried and powdered products;
  • benzo(a)pyrene: 1 microgram/kg wet weight; the same maximum level also applies to infant formulae and follow-on formulae, and to dietary foods for special medical purposes intended specifically for infants.

Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 February 2005 on maximum residue levels of pesticides in or on food and feed of plant and animal origin [Official Journal L 70 of 16.03.2005]
To prevent pesticide residues from contaminating food, this Regulation harmonises the maximum residue limits (MRLs) for authorised pesticides in products of plant and animal origin at the lowest level. This level is so low that it takes account of the most vulnerable groups, such as children and the unborn. The maximum acceptable daily intake for the different substances includes this population group.

Amended by:
Regulation (EC) No 178/2006 of 1 February 2006 [OJ L 29 of 2.2.2006] (addition of Annex I listing the food and feed products to which maximum levels for pesticide residues apply).

 
Last updated: 21.05.2007
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