EC revises restrictions on guar gum imports

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Guar gum, European union, Eu

Restrictions on guar gum imported from India into the EU have been revised on fears that the risk of dioxin contamination of the product remains too high.

Under EU Regulation (EU) 258/2010, food business operators (FBOs) will also be forced to pay for further inspections, sampling and analysis when the guar reaches European ports. One industry source questioned the move saying the measure was likely to lead to higher prices for the ingredient and heap further economic pressure on small and medium-sized food operators.

However, Katrin Hoenicke, business unit manager at contract lab Eurofins WEJ Contaminants, said the regulation would only have a limited impact.

"I think that European food industry players knows where they can get clean guar gum, free of pentachlorophenol,"​ she told FoodProductionDaily.com. "And even though they will have to pay for sampling, it will only be on five per cent of shipments."

The regulation has been updated following the introduction of similar restrictions in April 2008.The EC confirmed that since January 2008 only one non-compliant consignment has been reported through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

No improvement

The new directive on guar gum (E412) shipped from India is due to come into force tomorrow (April 15) after a recent report from the European Commission highlighted the failure of Indian authorities to remedy flaws in its inspection system of the ingredient. The country produces between 80-90 per cent of global supply of the thickening agent widely used in the food processing industry.

Fears over the safety of Indian guar gum imports were highlighted in 2007 after high levels of the dioxin pentachlorophenol (PCP) were discovered in shipments brought into Europe. An EC inspection team that travelled to India in autumn 2007 found there were “inadequate controls”​ in place to ensure that such contamination did not reoccur. A follow up mission two years later said “there has been no improvement in the control system and no significant reduction in the risk associated”.

EU Regulation

Under the new EU directive:

  • Consignments of India guar gum – or compounds containing at least 10 per cent of the substance - must have an appropriately authorised health certificate certifying they do not contain more than 0.01 mg/kg pentachlorophenol (PCP).
  • Shipments must also be accompanied by an analytical report from an accredited Indian laboratory, carried out accordance with EU Regulation (EU) 258/2010.
  • FBOs will be obliged to pre-notify ports and other points of entry of the date and time of the arrival of shipments.
  • Five per cent of consignments will be randomly inspected for identity and physical checks. FBOs will also have to meet all costs arising from the extra inspections. This includes bills for sampling, analysis, storage and measures taken following non-compliance.
  • Food companies must provide customs authorities with evidence that officials controls have been carried out and that shipments have been cleared as safe.

Read the full regulation via the following link

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