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Brussels, 13 October 2004

EU rules on ochratoxin A extended to coffee, wine and grape juice

The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health voted in favour of a European Commission proposal to amend Regulation 466/2001 to establish a maximum level of ochratoxin A in coffee, wine and grape juice. Ochratoxin A is a mycotoxin which has been shown to have carcinogenic and other toxic properties. Maximum levels for this contaminant have already been set for the EU population’s main sources of exposure, primarily cereals, while ongoing monitoring has now shown that maximum levels should also be set for other significant dietary sources.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said “By setting maximum levels for Ochratoxin A, we are making sure that consumers can enjoy coffee and wine without worrying about possible contamination. The proposal also introduces maximum levels for grape juice, a drink frequently consumed by children. As a result, this proposal will increase food safety for a group of vulnerable consumers.”

Ochratoxin A occurs naturally and can contaminate crops in the field or after harvest. Maximum permitted levels are established in EU legislation for significant dietary sources, to reduce human exposure as much as possible. It has been shown that cereals and cereal products are the main dietary sources of ochratoxin A for the EU population. Wine, coffee and beer are also significant sources while dried vine fruit and grape juice are important sources for vulnerable consumers like children. There are already EU rules in place for cereals and dried vine fruits. The Commission is continuing to review other foodstuffs to set maximum levels where needed. The following limits were agreed today:

  • roasted coffee beans and ground roasted coffee 5.0 μg/kg
  • soluble coffee 10.0 μg/kg
  • wine and other wine and/or grape must based drinks 2.0 μg/kg
  • grape juice and grape juice ingredients in other drinks 2.0 μg/kg

The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health consists of representatives of the Member States and is chaired by the European Commission. Having got the approval of the Member States, this Regulation will now have to be formally adopted by the European Commission in the near future.

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