Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: FR DE


Brussels, 29 November 2001

Dioxin in Food Byrne welcomes adoption by Council of dioxin limits in food

Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne today welcomed the adoption by the Council of a Regulation setting legally binding limits on the presence of dioxin and other contaminants in food. Any food exceeding these strict limits is excluded from the food chain. The measures on food are a key element of the comprehensive strategy the Commission put forward to improve the safety of feed and food in response to the dioxin contamination problems of the past. Byrne thanked the Belgian Presidency for facilitating a rapid agreement on the proposal the Commission put forward in July this year. An equivalent proposal setting maximum limits in feed was adopted by the Council on Tuesday (IP/01/1670).

"I am pleased to see the Ministers recognise that we need to be uncompromising and severe on contaminants in food. This new legislation, in setting legally binding limits, sets a new milestone in the EU's feed and food safety strategy" Byrne said commenting the outcome of today's Council. He added: "Only very few countries in the world have yet set legally binding levels for dioxins in food. These measures, as part of a comprehensive strategy, will undoubtedly reduce the presence of dioxins in food. Our strategy aims to deal with a complicated cycle of contamination necessitating simultaneously measures to reduce the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs in environment, feedingstuffs and foodstuffs. While these measures offer protection of consumer health, the ultimate goal must be to further reduce dioxin release at the source, to stop it from entering the environment."

The Council Regulation adopted today is a part of an overall strategy to reduce the presence of dioxins and PCBs in environment, feed and food. Measures to limit or to eliminate the emission of dioxins into the environment through source-directed measures are of major importance to reduce the overall contamination by dioxins. These measures are addressed in a Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee on a Community strategy for dioxins, furans and PCBs, which the Commission adopted on 24 October 2001 (see IP/01/1492 of 25 October 2001).

The adopted Regulation is an amendment of the Commisison Regulation (EC/466/2001) on maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs. It fixes strict but feasible maximum levels for dioxin in food. A derogation was granted by the Council to Finland and Sweden to continue marketing Baltic fish exceeding the limits on their own territory for local consumption until 2006.

The maximum levels for dioxins and furans in food established by the adoptedRegulation, form the first step of the measures concerning foodstuffs. In a forthcoming Commission Recommendation, the establishment of action levels and, over time, target levels for foodstuffs is foreseen which are lower than the maximum thresholds adopted today. The action levels will act as a tool for "early warning" triggering a proactive approach from competent authorities and operators to identify sources and pathways of contamination and to take measures to eliminate them.

The target levels are the levels to be achieved ultimately, acting as the driving force for measures which are necessary to further reduce emissions into the environment

In a separate Declaration attached to the Regulation, the Commission underlined the importance of national monitoring activities in the Member States to verify the respect of the levels as set. The declaration announces Commission initiatives for establishing concrete guidelines for this monitoring work, notably for the number of samples to be taken for each category of food. The data obtained from this and other monitoring exercises will form the basis for any further revision of the maximum levels adopted today.

The Regulation will enter into force on 1 July 2002.

See also: IP/01/1045 of 20 July 2001 (Commission proposes strategy to reduce dioxin in food and feed) at

And also MEMO/01/270 of 20 July 2001 (Factsheet on dioxin in food and feed) at:



    Maximum limits for dioxin in food


Maximum levels for dioxins

(PCDD + PCDF) (25)

(pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ/g fat or product)

5.1.1 Meat and meat products (28) originating from

- Ruminants (bovine animals, sheep)

- Poultry and farmed game

- Pigs

5.1.2 Liver and derived products

3 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26,27)

2 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26,27)

1 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26,27)

6 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26,27)

5.2. Muscle meat of fish and fishery products (29) and products thereof

4 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fresh weight(26)

5.3. Milk (30) and milk products, including butter fat

3 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26,27)

5.4 Hen eggs and egg products (31,32)

3 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26,27)

5.5.Oils and fats

    - Animal fat - from ruminants - from poultry and farmed game - from pigs - mixed animal fat

- Vegetable oil

- fish oil intended for human consumption

3 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26)

2 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26)

1 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26)

2 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26)

0.75 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26)

2 pg WHO-PCDD/F-TEQ /g fat(26)

    (25) Upperbound concentrations; upperbound concentrations are calculated assuming that all values of the different congeners less than the limit of determination are equal to the limit of determination

    (26) These maximum levels shall be reviewed for the first time by 31 December 2004 at the latest in the light of new data on the presence of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs, in particular with a view to the inclusion of dioxin-like PCBs in the levels to be set and will be further reviewed by 31 December 2006 at the latest with the aim of significantly reducing the maximum levels.

    (27) The maximum levels are not applicable for food products containing < 1% fat.

    (28) Meat of bovine animals, sheep, pig, poultry and farmed game as defined in Article 2 (a) of Council Directive 64/433/EEC (OJ 121 29.7.1964, p. 2012), as last amended by directive 95/23/EC (OJ L 243, 11.10.1995, p.7) and Article 2(1) of Council Directive 71/118/EEC (OJ L55, 8.3.1971, p. 23), as last amended by Directive 97/79/EC (OJ L24, 30.1.1998, p.31) and Article 2(2) of Council Directive 91/495/EC (OJ 268, 24.09.1991, p.41) as last amended by Directive 94/65/EC (OJ L 368, 31.12.1994, p.10), excluding edible offal as defined in Article 2(e) of Directive 64/433/EEC and Article 2(5) of Directive 71/118/EEC.

    (29) Muscle meat of fish and fishery products as defined in categories (a), (b), (c), (e) and (f) of the list in Article 1 of Council Regulation (EC) No 104/2000 (OJ L 17, 21.1.2000, p.22). The maximum level applies to crustaceans excluding the brown meat of crab and to cephalopods without viscera.

    (30) Milk (raw milk, milk for the manufacture of milk-based products and heat treated milk as defined in Council Directive 92/46/EEC (OJ L 268, 14.9.1992, p.1) as last amended by Council Directive 94/71/EC (OJ L368, 31.12.1994, p.33).

    (31) Hen eggs and egg products as defined in Article 2 of Council Directive 89/437/EEC (OJ L 212, 22.07.1989, p.87).

    (32) Free-range or semi-intensive eggs as defined in Article 18 of Commission Regulation (EEC) No 1274/91 (OJ L121, 16.5.1991, p.1) must comply with the maximum level laid down as from 1 January 2004."

Side Bar