India publishes guar gum contamination restrictions

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Guar gum, European union, India

New European Commission import restrictions on Indian guar gum have now been written into Indian regulations, which industry experts hope will speed up the supply process.

In April 2010, the EU revised restrictions on guar gum imported from India to ensure minimal levels of dioxin contamination.

Under EU Regulation (EU) 258/2010, which came into force on April 15 2010 and updates earlier restrictions, consignments of Indian 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).

Supply chain

According to some industry observers, this created a certain level of confusion in the supply chain, while details of the checks and inspections were still not published in India.

However, the country’s trade ministry yesterday published the updated restrictions in its regulations. These read:

“Guar gum exports to European Union, originating in or consigned from India and intended for animal or human consumption, allowed subject to issue of Health Certificate by authorized representative of Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India […] certifying that the product does not contain more than 0.01 mg/Kg. of Penta Chlorophenol (PCP) on sampling done by the authorized representative of the competent authority.”

To access the notification, click here​.

“This is positive for food manufacturers as it ensures safety of the ingredients,”​ said Katrin Hoenicke, business unit manager at contract lab Eurofins WEJ Contaminants. “But I don’t know if suppliers will pass on the additional cost to food producers, although I imagine this risk is quite high,”​ she told FoodNavigator.com.

“The restrictions have also caused some problems in getting hold of the guar gum as it takes longer to clear stocks. So far, the process has not been smooth, but that was also because the information about the process was not published in India, so hopefully that will now improve,”​ she said this morning.

Safety fears

Guar gum is present in a wide array of food applications, used as a thickening agent in formulations ranging from dressings to instant soups.​India produces between 80-90 per cent of the global supply of the ingredient.

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”.

The new EC regulation, which follows earlier restrictions set in April 2008, was set after a recent report from the European Commission that highlighted the failure of Indian authorities to remedy flaws in its inspection system of the ingredient.

Read the full regulation via the following link​.

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