New EU food testing labs come into operation

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food contact materials Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon

Three new EU food laboratories are coming into operation today,
providing testing facilities for heavy metals, mycotoxins and
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

For processors the laboratories will serve as a point of reference for issues and testing standards relating to the enforcement of legislation on food contact materials. They will provide information, training and support to the European Commission, national enforcement agencies and the food and feed industry. The three reference laboratories will be opened today by the commissioner for health, Markos Kyprianou, at the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements in Geel, Belgium. The Commission is in the process of setting up a series of such laboratories in a bid to establish more consistent food safety testing standards across the bloc. The new facilities are part of a EU drive to control the levels of such substances in the food change and to prevent products with potentially harmful health effects from reaching the consumer. "A strong pan-European network of laboratories is essential to create a more efficient regulatory framework and to boost public confidence in the safety of our food and feed products,"​ Kyprianou said. Heavy metals, mycotoxins and PAHs are all substances with potentially harmful health effects that can be found in food. Heavy metals are present in all foodstuffs. Some are important for nutrition, others - such as lead, cadmium and mercury - have no nutritional value and can contribute to serious illnesses such as cancer, or damage the central nervous system. Mycotoxins are produced by fungi growing on food and animal feed, which can cause anything from mild to serious illness. Scientific studies have estimated that up to 20 per cent of food products may contain mycotoxins. PAHs are compounds that can enter food during production processes. Some of the compounds can cause cancer or DNA mutation. Last year the EU opened a commmunity reference lab for food packaging. The lab, designed to test food contact materials, is based at the Commission's joint research centre in Ispra, Italy.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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