The European Commission has announced the adoption of a new set of measures to limit the presence of the mycotoxin 'patulin' in fruit juices, particularly apple juice and other foods containing or derived from apples.
Patulin is a mycotoxin with suspected carcinogenic properties and can occur in many mouldy fruits, although the main source of contamination is thought to be apple products.
Exposure assessments have shown that the average exposure of the European population to patulin is well below the maximum tolerable daily intake (0.4 ìg/kg body weight) established by the Scientific Committee for Food. Nevertheless, specific groups of consumers, especially small children, are more exposed since they tend to consume more apple products, according to the European Commission (EC).
As a result the EC says it has decided that, in order to protect public health, it is necessary to set a maximum level of patulin for those foodstuffs in which it most commonly occurs. These measures will aim to limit the presence of patulin in food to the lowest reasonably achievable level.
The first measure is an amendment of regulation 466/2001, which sets maximum levels for patulin in a range of foodstuffs mainly derived from or containing apple products. A review of the maximum levels of patulin of 50 ìg/kg with the aim of reducing these levels is also foreseen.
The EC says this review will in particular take into account the implementation of the code of practice foreseen in the following measure.
As such the Commission says it has also adopted a recommendation, including the code of practice, on the prevention and reduction of patulin contamination in apple juice and other beverages containing apple juice ingredients, to be implemented by all operators in the processing industry.
Lastly, the Commission adopted a directive on sampling methods and methods of analysis for the official control of the levels of patulin in foodstuffs.
The Member States were consulted on these measures through the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health and gave a favourable opinion on 17 July 2003, according to the EC statement.
For further information on the new measures see the European Commission website.