EFSA’s Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) has just completed the final opinion in a series of 30 risks assessments undertaken over the last 5 years looking at undesirable substances in animal feed.
These opinions were delivered following requests of the European Commission to review the possible risks for animal and human health due to the presence of these substances in animal feed.
These undesirable substances are chemicals such as nitrite, the substance addressed in the last of the 30 opinions just published; they can occur naturally, or result from environmental or other contamination in the feed and food chain. The elimination of undesirable substances in feed is not always possible, but it is important to reduce their presence in order to avoid endangering animal health, human health or the environment.
Maximum levels of undesirable substances in animal feed are listed in Annex I of the EU Directive 2002/32/EC and are being updated based on EFSA’s individual assessments.
The 30 opinions published over the last 5 years covered natural plant products (such as gossypol and theobromine), persistent organic pollutants (such as DDT and hexachlorobenzene), heavy metals (such as arsenic and mercury), fluorine and mycotoxins (such as aflatoxin B1).
In most cases, the CONTAM Panel identified no risks to animal health resulting from feed intakes at the maximum authorised levels, provided good animal feeding practices are followed. However, adverse effects on animal health could not be excluded for some substances, such as deoxynivalenol in pigs, mercury in cats, gossypol in sheep and theobromine in dogs and horses.
The risks of adverse human health effects due to the presence of undesirable substances in products of animal origin – such as fresh meat, eggs and milk – were generally found to be low but in some cases EFSA recommended reducing their presence, in particular for persistent organic pollutants such as camphechlor.
The need for further research was identified for several substances, and in particular regarding the extent to which the presence of these substances in feed may lead to the contamination of foods of animal origin.
Source: EFSA – European Food Safety Authority