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Undesirable substances in animal feed

The European Union (EU) sets maximum levels for undesirable substances (contaminants) in animal feed. It also limits the risks of contamination of animal feed by substances and products that are toxic or adversely affect production.


Directive 2002/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 May 2002 on undesirable substances in animal feed [See amending act(s)].


This Directive sets maximum levels to limit as far as possible the presence of undesirable substances and products in animal feed put into circulation within the European Union (EU).

Undesirable substances

"Undesirable substance" means any substance or product, with the exception of pathogenic agents, which is present in and/or on the product intended for animal feed and which presents a potential danger to animal or human health or to the environment or could adversely affect livestock production. The range of substances covered by the Directive comprises arsenic, lead, mercury, dioxin and certain mustards.

This Directive applies to all products intended for animal feed, including raw materials for feed, additives and complementary feedingstuffs.

List of undesirable substances

The Directive lays down a list of undesirable substances, for which it sets limit values above which their presence in animal feeds is forbidden (see Annex I to the Directive). This list is regularly updated in the light of technical progress.


When these maximum levels are exceeded, Member States, in cooperation with the economic operators concerned, must carry out investigations to identify the sources of the substances concerned. They must then inform the Commission of the outcome of these investigations and the measures taken to reduce the level of the substances or eliminate them.


To prevent fraud, the Directive prohibits mixing a product containing undesirable substances with the same product or other products in order to dilute it.

Temporary provisions

There can be no derogations from the Directive. However, where a danger to human or animal health or to the environment becomes apparent, Member States may provisionally take more stringent measures, reducing the maximum level set in the Directive.


Following the dioxin crisis in the late 1990s, the EU made many changes to European undesirable substances in order to improve food security and to better protect human and animal health and the environment.

Directive 2002/32/EC replaces Directive 1999/29/EC as from 1 August 2003.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2002/32/EC



OJ L 140, 30.5.2002

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 219/2009



OJ L 87, 31.3.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2002/32/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules.
In the context of the review of food hygiene legislation ("hygiene package"), this Regulation re-organises official controls of food and feed so as to integrate controls at all stages of production and in all sectors. The Regulation defines the European Union's duties as regards the organisation of these controls, as well as the rules which must be respected by the national authorities responsible for carrying out the official controls, including coercive measures adopted in the event of failure to comply with Community law.

Last updated: 07.12.2011
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