New rules for nitrites and nitrates

New rules for nitrites and nitrates

European Health Council amended 2 EU Directives on food additives and sweeteners. The legislation agreed adapts the authorised levels of nitrates and nitrites permitted in meat, in line with a ruling by the Court of Justice in 2000, and a subsequent scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Authority.

The level of nitrosamines (which are formed from nitrates and nitrites) will be kept as low as possible by lowering the levels of nitrites and nitrates added to food. Specific provisions are however provided for some traditional meat products, which rely on certain technological processes and would disappear from the market if forced to comply with the general provisions. However, for such traditional products a description of the production process has been included so that they can be easily recognised and defined.

Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, has welcomed the agreement at Health Council to amend 2 EU Directives on food additives and sweeteners. The proposed amendments include stricter requirements for nitrites and nitrates in meat, in line with a Court of Justice ruling and a European Food Safety Authority opinion on the levels of these substances which can be considered safe in meat.

The proposal agreed also allows the use of seven new food additives and extends the permitted uses of certain other additives. These changes to the current legislation for food additives and sweeteners will ensure the better functioning of the internal market, and maintain a high level of food safety and consumer protection.


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