Europe Introduces Dioxin Prevention Measures

Following a January 2011 incident in Germany in which pig and poultry feed was found to contain dioxins above the European legal limits due to a feed manufacturer using mixed fatty acids intended for technical purposes, the European Commission has released a proposed regulation to further reduce the risk of dioxin contamination in the feed and food chain.

An investigation by the commission and negotiations with the concerned industries, including farmers, and the competent authorities in the European Union (EU) member states after the incident concluded with the adoption of the following four measures in late October by the member states at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.

1. Feed businesses processing crude vegetable oils, manufacturing products derived from oils of vegetable origin, and blending fats will have to be approved, and not just registered, by the competent authority.

2. Fats intended for feed and food will now be strictly segregated during production and transport from fats intended for technical use, for example in the chemical industry. This is to take into account the experience gained from the application of hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) based systems. Additionally, the labeling of the products must explicitly mention their intended use. These provisions will help prevent products unfit for feed use entering the feed and food chain.

3. An EU harmonized plan with mandatory minimum testing for dioxin depending on the risk inherent to the products will be introduced. The testing will focus on the risky products at the moment they enter the feed chain, thus ensuring the efficient use of resources. This will facilitate the detection of non-compliant cases and the enforcement of feed law. Additionally, the test results on dioxin prevalence will enable feed business operators to improve their HACCP system. And if the experience gained will require adjustments along the way, the review clause of the monitoring obligation for the industry allows for that.

4. All laboratories are obliged to directly notify the competent authorities of any excessive findings of dioxin.

The commission believes that the measures will allow regulators to exercise better and EU-harmonized control over critical points in the feed chain. Although this measure will result in some costs to the industry, the actions are targeted and the commission estimates annual costs will amount to just a small percentage of the costs of one dioxin incident.

The draft regulation will now be sent to the European Parliament and Council for scrutiny before the commission can officially approve it. The regulation is expected to enter into force in mid-2012.

December 2011 RENDER | back