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April 20, 2018

Recommendation n. 2018/464 - Marine algae, halophytes and marine algae products: Commission recommendation to monitor specific metals in these products

In view of the fact that marine algae and halophytes are becoming increasingly important in the consumption habits of certain EU consumers and that they contain significant concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, iodine, lead and mercury, the European Commission has laid down provisions on the monitoring to be carried out by the Member States, in order to verify whether the total exposure of these substances necessitates the need to intervene with appropriate provisions which provide for their limits or to modify the limitation foreseen for mercury.

IN DEPTH
The European Commission, with the EU Recommendation of 19 March 2018 n. 464, established the procedures for the implementation by the Member States of the monitoring to detect the presence of specific metals and iodine in seaweed, in halophytes and in products based on seaweed, in order to check whether the total exposure of these substances makes it necessary to define maximum levels for the arsenic, cadmium and lead present in these products or to modify the limit set for mercury or to adopt measures which provide for limits on exposure to iodine.

Provisions foreseen by the Recommendation n. 2018/464

The Recommendation in question provides that, for the period 2018, 2019 and 2020, Member States must:

  • perform a monitoring to detect the presence of arsenic, cadmium, iodine, lead and mercury in marine algae, halophytes and marine algae products. Monitoring should include edible halophytes including Salicorna europaea and Tetragonia tetragonoides, as well as a wide variety of marine algae species, including:

~~-) the aram (Ecklonia bicyclis);
-) sea oak (Fucus vesiculosus);
-) the dulse (Palmaria palmata);
-) the hijiki (Hizikia fusiform);
-) carragheen (Chondrus crispus);
-) laminaria (Laminaria digitata);
-) the kombu (Laminaria japonica, Saccharina japonica);
-) the nori (Porphyra and Pyropia spp.);
-) the nodular ascofillo (Ascophyllum nodosum);
-) sea lettuce (Ulva sp.);
-) sea spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata);
-) the fucus serratus (Fucus serratus);
-) the green ball (Codium sp.);
-) saccharina (Saccharina latissima);
-) the wakame (Undaria pinnatifida);
-) alaria (Alaria esculenta);

in order to allow an accurate estimation of the exposure;

  • collecting the data of occurrence also for food additives based on marine algae, including E400, E401, E403, E404, E405, E406, E407, E407a and E160a (iv);
  • ensure for food monitoring, the application of sampling procedures provided for by the Community legislation governing the monitoring of the levels of trace elements and process contaminants in foodstuffs, in order to ensure that the samples are representative of the batch sampled ;
  • ensure for the monitoring of feed, the application of sampling procedures provided for by the Community legislation governing sampling and analysis methods for official controls of food for animals;
  • carry out the analyzes in accordance with the Community legislation governing official controls aimed at verifying compliance with feed and food law and animal health and welfare standards, using an analysis method that has been shown to produce results reliable;
  • carry out the analysis of mercury by determining the total mercury and methylmercury content and the analysis of arsenic should be carried out by determining the inorganic and total arsenic content and, if possible, of other relevant arsenic species;
  • to specify:

-) the species or numbers of the additives analyzed;
-) if fresh, dried or processed products have been analyzed;
-) the origin of the products (wild or cultivated), the date and place of harvest and the share of seaweed that has been analyzed, providing any information on the label of the final products;
• periodically communicate to EFSA the monitoring data, together with the information provided, for the purposes of their inclusion in a European database.